From the Pen of Inspiration – The Leaven of Evil Speaking

It pains me to say that there are unruly tongues among church members. There are false tongues that feed on mischief. There are sly, whispering tongues. There is tattling, impertinent meddling, adroit quizzing. Among the lovers of gossip some are actuated by curiosity, others by jealousy, many by hatred against those through whom God has spoken to reprove them. All these discordant elements are at work. Some conceal their real sentiments, while others are eager to publish all they know, or even suspect, of evil against another.

I saw that the very spirit of perjury, that would turn truth into falsehood, good into evil, and innocence into crime, is now active. Satan exults over the condition of God’s professed people. While many are neglecting their own souls, they eagerly watch for an opportunity to criticize and condemn others. All have defects of character, and it is not hard to find something that jealousy can interpret to their injury. “Now,” say these self-constituted judges, “we have facts. We will fasten upon them an accusation from which they can not clear themselves.” They wait for a fitting opportunity and then produce their bundle of gossip and bring forth their tidbits.

In their efforts to carry a point, persons who have naturally a strong imagination are in danger of deceiving themselves and deceiving others. They gather up unguarded expressions from another, not considering that words may be uttered hastily and hence may not reflect the real sentiments of the speaker. But those unpremeditated remarks, often so trifling as to be unworthy of notice, are viewed through Satan’s magnifying glass, pondered, and repeated until molehills become mountains. Separated from God, the surmisers of evil become the sport of temptation. They scarcely know the strength of their feelings or the effect of their words. While condemning the errors of others, they indulge far greater errors themselves. Consistency is a jewel.

Is there no law of kindness to be observed? Have Christians been authorized of God to criticize and condemn one another? Is it honorable, or even honest, to win from the lips of another, under the guise of friendship, secrets which have been entrusted to him, and then turn the knowledge thus gained to his injury? Is it Christian charity to gather up every floating report, to unearth everything that will cast suspicion on the character of another, and then take delight in using it to injure him? Satan exults when he can defame or wound a follower of Christ. He is “the accuser of our brethren.” Shall Christians aid him in his work?

God’s all-seeing eye notes the defects of all and the ruling passion of each, yet He bears with our mistakes and pities our weakness. He bids His people cherish the same spirit of tenderness and forbearance. True Christians will not exult in exposing the faults and deficiencies of others. They will turn away from vileness and deformity, to fix the mind upon that which is attractive and lovely. To the Christian every act of faultfinding, every word of censure or condemnation, is painful.

There have always been men and women who profess the truth, who have not conformed their lives to its sanctifying influence; men who are unfaithful, yet deceiving themselves and encouraging themselves in sin. Unbelief is seen in their life, their deportment, and character, and this terrible evil acts as does a canker.

Would all professed Christians use their investigative powers to see what evils needed to be corrected in themselves, instead of talking of others’ wrongs, there would be a more healthy condition in the church today. . . .

All should wait patiently until they hear both sides of the question, and then believe only what stern facts compel them to believe.

Testimonies, vol. 5, 94–97.

Reprinted from LandMarks, October 1995.

Those who separate from God and lose their spirituality, do not fall back all at once into a state which the true Witness calls lukewarm. They conform to the world little by little. As its influence steals upon them, they fail to resist it and maintain the warfare. After the first step is taken to have friendship with the world, darkness follows and they are prepared for the next. At every step they take in the downward course darkness gathers about them, until they are enshrouded. As they conform to the world they lose the transforming influence of the Spirit of God. They do not realize their distance from God. They think themselves in good case because they profess to believe the truth. They grow weaker and weaker, until the Spirit of God is withdrawn, and God bids his angels, Let them alone! Jesus spues them out of his mouth. He has borne their names to his Father; he has interceded for them, but he ceases his pleadings. Their names are dropped, and they are left with the world. They realize no change. Their profession is the same. There has not been so glaring a departure from the appearance of right. They had become so assimilated to the world that when heaven’s light was withdrawn they did not miss it. Review and Herald, November 26, 1861.

Reprinted from LandMarks, April 1994.

Ellen G. White (1827–1915) wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. Today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world’s attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ’s second advent.

The Power of Speech, Part VI

[Editor’s Note: This article continues a compilation of counsel given to strengthen and encourage anyone who is struggling through a crisis caused by the “Power of Speech.”]

Some people would find fault with others in heaven!

“Are you quarrelsome here? Are you finding fault with your household here? If you are, you will find fault with them in heaven. Your character is being tested and proved in this life, whether you will make a peaceable subject of God’s kingdom in heaven.” In Heavenly Places, 227.

“The home is a place where we are to prepare for the home above. If there are such temperaments in the family that they cannot live in harmony here, they would not, unless converted, be in harmony in the heavenly family. There is altogether too much careless talking, censuring, faultfinding, in families that profess to love and serve God. The unkind words, the irreverence and disrespect in many families, make angels weep. What a record is made upon the books of heaven of unkind looks and words that sting and bite like an adder, and it is not the record of one day only in the year, but of day after day.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 319.

These people will not be in heaven.

“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.

“In the home the spirit of criticism and faultfinding should have no place. The peace of the home is too sacred to be marred by this spirit. But how often, when seated at the meal table, the members of the family pass round a dish of criticism, faultfinding, and scandal. Were Christ to come today, would He not find many of the families who profess to be Christians cherishing the spirit of criticism and unkindness? The members of such families are unready to unite with the family above.” The Adventist Home, 440.

“Fretfulness and impatience will be avoided, because they shut away the light of the Sun of righteousness from the soul. Those who manifest impatience, who are faultfinders, exacters, and accusers will have to be converted and become as little children, or they will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Review and Herald, June 12, 1894.

“I [Ellen White] feel an intense interest regarding every faultfinder; for I know that a quarrelsome disposition will never find entrance into the city of God. Quarrel with yourself, but with no one else; and then be converted. Confess your sins right here where you are, before you return to your homes. With words of confession, humble your hearts before God.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 271.

Whose work is it to find fault?

“Be kind; cultivate love and gentleness. Pray more; read your Bibles more. Be diligent students in the school of Christ. Then the members of the church will not be finding fault with their brethren and sisters; this is Satan’s work.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 571.

What position is the church to take with those who find fault?

“Those who are associated together in church capacity have entered into a relationship with one another which implies mutual responsibility. They have individually pledged themselves to God and to their brethren to build up one another in the most holy faith,—to build up, not to tear down. 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.

How can the atmosphere around us become tainted?

“It is impossible to express the pain and trouble caused by the false tongue. The atmosphere surrounding the soul is vital with influences for good or evil. There are persons whose presence leaves a taint on everything wherever they go. An intelligent Christian lady, after a scandal-monger had left her house, set all the doors and windows wide open to cleanse the atmosphere of its pollution. The professed followers of Christ should realize that the influence of their words and acts not only has a bearing upon themselves, but extends outside the church. If they could see the mischief wrought by their careless words, the repetition of vague reports, the unjust censures, there would be far less talking and more praying when Christians assemble together.” Ibid.

Our accountability

“At the bar of God there will be opened before us astonishing revelations of the results of evil-speaking. At that bar the deceitful tongue, the cruel tongue, that has been so unsparing in its accusing and denunciation, will receive from the Judge of all the earth the same judgment that it has passed upon others. Vain talkers will then be called to meet their work, to answer for the souls that have been turned from the truth by their wicked words.

“The members of the church need to be educated to realize their accountability. They should feel that it extends to all the minutest acts of life, to the words and to the thoughts. We must individually meet our whole life again before God’s throne, and give an account, not only for all we have done, whether good or evil, but for all the good we might have done yet failed to accomplish because we were not consecrated to God.” Ibid.

When will the church be unable to rise?

“The Lord is willing to work for the church if they will in his fear go to work for themselves. They must individually make earnest efforts to reach a higher standard; but the church cannot rise while the mischief-makers are allowed to do their work of death. Each member of the church should do all in his power to eradicate this curse. God would have his children keep guard, not only over their words, but over their thoughts. Let the heart be closed firmly against all evil reports and meddling talkers, and let it be opened wide to receive God’s light and love. Let the soul receive the impress of the divine image, that it may reflect Jesus to the world.” Ibid.

How can the church become a light to unbelievers?

“The grace of Christ in the soul is represented as a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The heart imbued with the spirit of Christ renders back love and obedience, gratitude and thanksgiving, thus showing forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. How terrible a thing it is to disappoint Jesus by failing to do this work which he expects of us, and which we can do if his light is shining in our hearts! The world is to be warned by the solemn truths which God has committed to his people. And the condition of the church is making its impression either for or against these truths. A perishing world has need of living Christian men and women, in whom Christ is abiding, and in whose daily life he is revealed. A church whose members are quickened by personal connection with Jesus will have an influence upon unbelievers. Their purity of character, their inflexible fidelity, their Christ-like meekness, are a light to guide other souls to Christ and to the truth.” Ibid.

What four classes of workers in God’s institutions should be dismissed from employment?

“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. If workers have no relish for the truth; if their connection with the institution makes them no better, brings to them no love for the truth, then, after sufficient trial, separate them from the work; for their irreligion and unbelief influence others. Through them evil angels work to mislead those who are brought in as apprentices. You should obtain for apprentices those who are promising youth, those who love God. But if you place them in connection with others who have no love for God, they are in constant danger from the irreligious influence. 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 work.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 202.

How do we know that we will always have faultfinders to deal with in the church until the end?

“The entire body of Christians was not called to vote upon the question. The ‘apostles and elders,’ men of influence and judgment, framed and issued the decree, which was thereupon generally accepted by the Christian churches. Not all, however, were pleased with the decision; there was a faction of ambitious and self-confident brethren who disagreed with it. These men assumed to engage in the work on their own responsibility. They indulged in much murmuring and faultfinding, proposing new plans and seeking to pull down the work of the men whom God had ordained to teach the gospel message. From the first the church has had such obstacles to meet and ever will have till the close of time.” The Acts of the Apostles, 196, 197.

“Every advance made by those whom God has called to lead in His work has excited suspicion; every act has been misrepresented by the jealous and faultfinding. Thus it was in the time of Luther, of the Wesleys and other reformers. Thus it is today.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 404.

How is the spirituality of the church killed?

“After the family then comes the church. The influence of the family is to be such that it will be a help and a blessing in the church. Never speak a word of complaint or faultfinding. There are churches in which the spirituality has been almost killed, because the spirit of backbiting has been allowed to enter. Why do we speak words of blame and censure? To be silent is the strongest rebuke that you can give to one who is speaking harsh, discourteous words to you. Keep perfectly silent. Often silence is eloquence.” Child Guidance, 551.

What is another way that a Christian worker brings himself under Satan’s control?

“Some are teaching the truth to others, when they themselves need to be taught the first principles of the Christian religion. They are at war with God through his providence. They watch for something to feel bad about; and they never fail to find it, for the faultfinding spirit is in their hearts and controls their lives. They are always dissatisfied. Their work is too hard, they are not appreciated, or they do not receive sufficient compensation. If anything crosses their track, they draw back like pettish children, forgetting that as Christ’s servants they should not be affected by the course of any man. This spirit savors of Satan, and those who manifest it are thereby yielding to his control.” Gospel Workers (1892), 438.

If we become Christlike, how will we feel about faultfinding?

“We are nearing the end of time. Trials will be abundant from without, but let them not come from within the church. Let God’s professed people deny self for the truth’s sake, for Christ’s sake. ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.’ . . . Everyone who truly loves God will have the spirit of Christ and a fervent love for his brethren. The more a person’s heart is in communion with God, and the more his affections are centered in Christ, the less will he be disturbed by the roughness and hardships he meets in this life. Those who are growing up to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus will become more and more like Christ in character, rising above the disposition to murmur and be discontented. They will despise to be faultfinders.” Lift Him Up, 338.

“God’s all-seeing eye notes the defects of all and the ruling passion of each, yet He bears with our mistakes and pities our weakness. He bids His people cherish the same spirit of tenderness and forbearance. True Christians will not exult in exposing the faults and deficiencies of others. They will turn away from vileness and deformity, to fix the mind upon that which is attractive and lovely. To the Christian every act of faultfinding, every word of censure or condemnation, is painful.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 95, 96.

What is the most powerful testimony that Christians can give?

“The neglect to cultivate tender consideration and forbearance for one another has caused dissension, distrust, faultfinding, and general disunion. God . . . calls upon us to put away this great sin and to strive to answer the prayer of Christ that His disciples may be one as He is one with the Father. . . . It is the special work of Satan to cause dissension, . . . that the world should be deprived of the most powerful testimony Christians can give it that God has sent His Son to bring into harmony turbulent, proud, envious, jealous, bigoted minds.” Our High Calling, 237.

“We individually have a case pending in the court of heaven. Character is being weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and it should be the earnest desire of all to walk humbly and carefully, lest, neglecting to let their light shine forth to the world, they fail of the grace of God and lose everything that is valuable. All dissension, all differences and faultfinding, should be put away, with all evil speaking and bitterness; kindness, love, and compassion for one another should be cherished, that the prayer of Christ that His disciples might be one as He is one with the Father may be answered. The harmony and unity of the church are the credentials that they present to the world that Jesus is the Son of God. Genuine conversion will ever lead to genuine love for Jesus and for all those for whom He died.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 279.

What should we do when ill-treated?

“Under a storm of stinging, faultfinding words, keep the mind stayed upon the word of God. Let mind and heart be stored with God’s promises. If you are ill-treated or wrongfully accused, instead of returning an angry answer, repeat to yourself the precious promises: “ ‘Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.’ Romans 12:21.” The Ministry of Healing, 486.

Where do we need to focus our attention?

“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. . . . If we would get the right hold on God, we must keep beholding the great precious things—the purity, the glory, the power, the kindness, the affection, the love, that God bestows upon us. And thus beholding, our minds will become so fixed upon these things of eternal interest that we shall have no desire to find the flaws in others.” Our High Calling, 232.

What should we do if spoken to harshly?

“When you are tempted to speak unadvisedly, be on guard. If some one else approaches you with words of criticism regarding one of God’s children, turn a deaf ear to every such word. If you are spoken to harshly, never retaliate. Utter not a word. When under provocation, remember that ‘silence is eloquence.’ Silence is the greatest rebuke that you can possibly give to a faultfinder or one whose temper is irritated.” Ibid., 293.

What is the result of patience?

“Is there anything desirable in impatience? The loud, harsh complaint, the fretful, faultfinding spirit, are evidences of a narrow, conceited mind. Impatience brings strife and accusation and sorrow; but patience pours the balm of peace and love into the experiences of the home life. When we exercise the precious grace of patience toward others, they will reflect our spirit, and we shall gather with Christ. Patience will seek for unity in the church, in the family, and in the community. This grace must be woven into our lives. Everyone should mount this round of progress, and add to faith, virtue, and temperance, the grace of patience.” Peter’s Counsel to Parents, 19.

We need to encourage one another in doing good.

“A word of love and encouragement will do more to subdue the hasty temper and willful disposition than all the faultfinding and severe censure that you can heap upon the erring ones.” The Publishing Ministry, 137.

“How much more might have been accomplished had the time spent by God’s people in faultfinding been spent in encouraging one another, and in active service! How much better for voices to blend in prayer, in holy unison, than to be employed in finding fault!” Review and Herald, January 3, 1907.

Concerning censuring others behind their backs in our time:

“Desiring to bring censure upon the disciples, these wicked accusers went again and again to Christ with the question, Why do Thy disciples that which is not lawful? And when they judged our Lord to have transgressed, they spoke, not to Himself, but to His disciples, to plant the seeds of unbelief in the hearts of His followers.

“Thus they worked to bring in doubt and dissension. Every method was tried to bring doubt into the hearts of the little flock, that it might cause them to watch for something that would check the good and gracious work of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Work of this same character will be brought to bear upon true believers today. The Lord Jesus reads the heart; He discerns the interests and purposes of the thoughts of all men concerning Himself and His believing disciples. He answers their thoughts concerning the faultfinding ones, ‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick’ (Matthew 9:12). The insolent Pharisees had an exalted idea of their own piety and holiness, while they were ready to pass censure on the lives of others.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 30, 31.

When will God’s ministers, though not guilty, be accused as faultfinders and accusers?

“Paul longed to speak to the church in Corinth of spiritual things. But to his sorrow he found it in great weakness. The church members could not even bear to hear the truth concerning themselves. [1 Corinthians 3:1, 2 quoted.] The Spiritual growth of this people was so dwarfed that a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ was an offense to them. Paul knew that by giving them the truth he would be ranked as an accuser and faultfinder.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1086.

What is included in “the beam” (log or large timber) in Matthew 7:1–3?

“The eleventh chapter of 11 Corinthians contains much instruction. It reveals to us that men who are liable to view matters after human eyesight may make very grave mistakes if they engage in a work that God has not appointed, but condemned. That work is to criticize, to climb upon the judgment seat, and pronounce sentence. How much better would it be for the spiritual advancement of such to look well to their own shortcomings and defects of character through watchful examination of their own hearts, to try to remove from them the beam of faultfinding, of evil surmising, of evil speaking, of bearing false witness, of hatred, and accusing of the brethren.” Ibid., 1105.

Is faultfinding sometimes a “good work”?

“Those who make faultfinding their work, may appear to be constantly anxious and interested in regard to the welfare of others. They may seem to be actively engaged in good work. But their work does harm, and by the Lord it is not regarded as of any value. ‘They say,’ is whispered here and there; by blind suggestions, other minds are filled with suspicion and distrust; uneasiness is created. Those who have listened to the ‘They say,’ call to mind something they have observed in their brethren, which might have been wrong, and much is made of that which is worthy of but little notice. These apparently innocent words strike long, fibrous roots into the minds of those that hear them, and untold harm is done. Seeds of bitterness are planted; evil suggestions rankle in human hearts, and the seed springs up to bear an abundant harvest.” Ibid., vol. 7, 940.

How to be cured of faultfinding:

“Said the angel: ‘It is an individual work to be right with God.’ The work is between God and our own souls. But when persons have so much care of others’ faults, they take no care of themselves. These notional, faultfinding ones would often cure themselves of the habit if they would go directly to the individual they think is wrong. It would be so crossing that they would give up their notions rather than go. But it is easy to let the tongue run freely about this one or that one when the accused is not present.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 145.

What class of people in the church is predicted to be shaken out?

“There is a class East who profess to believe the truth, but who cherish secret feelings of dissatisfaction against those who bear the burden in this work. The true sentiments of such do not appear until some influence opposed to the work of God arises, and then they manifest their true character. Such readily receive, cherish, and circulate reports which have no foundation in truth, to destroy the influence of those who are engaged in this work. All who wish to draw off from the body will have opportunity. 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.” Ibid., 251.

Would it be better for some people not to come to church or enter God’s work?

“Murmurers and complainers should remain at home, where they will be out of the way of temptation, where they cannot find food for their jealousies, evil surmisings, and faultfindings, for the presence of such is only a burden to the meetings; they are clouds without water.” Ibid., 527.

To be continued . . .

Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life Ministry and pastor of the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

The Power of Speech, Part VII

[Editor’s Note: This article continues a compilation of counsel given to strengthen and encourage anyone who is struggling through a crisis caused by the “Power of Speech.”]

It is our duty to subdue natural feelings in not expressing unsanctified sympathy.

“You have a work to do for yourselves which no one can do for you. You are inclined to murmur and complain. You have something to do to subdue your natural feelings. Live for God yourselves, knowing that you have not to answer for the wrongs of others. I saw . . . that you would certainly be overcome by Satan, and make utter shipwreck of faith, unless you stop your faultfinding, and seek pure and undefiled religion before God. You need to be elevated in your thoughts and conversation; you need a thorough conversion.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 221.

“I was shown that neither of you really know yourselves. If God should let the enemy loose upon you, as He did upon His servant Job, He would not find in you that spirit of steadfast integrity that He found in Job, but a spirit of murmuring and of unbelief. Had you been situated at Battle Creek during my husband’s illness, at the time of the trial of our brethren and sisters there, when Satan had special power upon them, both of you would have drunk deep of their spirit of jealousy and faultfinding. You would have been among the number, as zealous as the rest, to make a diseased, careworn man, a paralytic, an offender for a word.” Ibid., vol. 3, 311, 312.

“Feelings of suspicion, jealousy, and unbelief have for years been gaining power upon your mind. You have a hatred for reproof. You are very sensitive, and your sympathies arise at once for anyone who is reproved. This is not a sanctified feeling, and is not prompted by the Spirit of God. Brother and Sister A, I was shown that when this spirit of faultfinding and murmuring should be developed in you, when it should be manifested and the leaven of dissatisfaction, jealousy, and unbelief which has cursed the life of E and her husband should appear, we would have a work to do to meet it decidedly and give that spirit no quarter; and that, until this should be developed, I should keep silent, for there was a time to speak and a time to keep silent. I saw that, should apparent prosperity attend the labors of Brother A, unless he was a thoroughly converted man he would be in danger of losing his soul. He does not have becoming respect for the position and labors of others; he considers himself second to none.” Ibid., 313, 314.

What is the result to the child of continual faultfinding?

“In your own house you should exercise kindness, speaking gently to your child, treating him affectionately, and refraining from reproving him for every little error, lest he become hardened by continual faultfinding.” Ibid., vol. 4, 61.

“You are overbearing, and stir up strife by faultfinding and hasty condemnation. You have so long cultivated a spirit of retaliation that you continually need the grace of God to soften and subdue your nature. The dear Saviour has said: ‘Bless them that curse you, . . . and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ [Matthew 5:44.]” Ibid., 134.

How long will we receive reproof in this world?

“The Lord is fitting a people for heaven. The defects of character, the stubborn will, the selfish idolatry, the indulgence of faultfinding, hatred, and contention, provoke the wrath of God and must be put away from His commandment-keeping people. Those living in these sins are deceived and blinded by the wiles of Satan. They think that they are in the light when they are groping in darkness. There are murmurers among us now, even as there were murmurers among ancient Israel. Those who by unwise sympathy encourage men in rebellion when their self-love is smarting beneath merited reproof are not the friends of God, the great Reprover. God will send reproof and warning to His people as long as they continue upon earth.” Ibid., 180.

The curse of politics in the church:

“No countenance should be given to a spirit that implies: ‘If you favor me, I will favor you.’ This is unsanctified, worldly policy, which displeases God. It is paying favors and admiration for the sake of gain. It is showing a partiality for certain ones, expecting to secure advantages through them. It is seeking their good will by indulgence, that we may be held in greater estimation than others fully as worthy as ourselves. It is a hard thing to see one’s own errors, but everyone should realize how cruel is the spirit of envy, rivalry, distrust, faultfinding, and dissension.” Ibid., 222.

When will God not bring souls into the church?

“Some have been ready to say anything, to prefer any charge, against the servants of God, and to be jealous and faultfinding. And if they can find any instance where, in their zeal for the cause of God, they think ministers have spoken decidedly, and perhaps severely, they have been willing to make the most of their words, and have felt at liberty to cherish the most bitter, wicked spirit, and to charge the Lord’s servants with wrong motives. Let these faultfinders ask what they would have done under similar circumstances, bearing similar burdens. Let them look and search and condemn their own wrong, overbearing course and their own impatience and fretfulness; and when without sin themselves, let them cast the first stone of censure at the brethren who are trying to get them into working order. A holy God will not bring out souls to the truth to come under such an influence as has existed in the church. Our heavenly Father is too wise to bring souls into the truth to be molded by the influence of these men who are unconsecrated in heart and life. These men are not in harmony with the truth. They are not in union with the body, but are drawing off from the church. They are working at cross purposes with those whom God is using to bring souls into the truth.” Ibid., 238.

Becoming excited in speech:

“Some think it is a virtue to be unrestrained, and they will speak in praise of their outspoken habit of talking out disagreeable things which are in the heart. They let an angry spirit exhaust itself in a torrent of reproach and faultfinding. The more they talk, the more excited they become, and Satan stands by to help on the work, for it suits him. The words irritate the one to whom they are spoken, and they will be thrown back, giving provocation for still harder words, until a little matter has blazed into a great flame. Both of you feel that you have all the trials that you can possibly endure and that your lives are most unhappy. Resolutely commence the work of controlling your thoughts, your words, your actions. When either of you feels the rising of resentment, make it a rule to go by yourself and humbly pray to God, who will hearken to the prayer which goeth not forth from feigned lips.” Ibid., 243.

On making strong statements:

“Brother F, you are naturally an impatient, fretful, exacting man at home; and after a short acquaintance you show this out in new places. You frequently talk in an impatient, overbearing manner. This must all be repented of. You may now begin anew. God has in His boundless mercy given you another chance. Your wife has much in herself to contend against, and you should be on your guard that you do not throw her upon Satan’s ground. Fretting, faultfinding, and making strong statements must be given up. What time have you set to gain the victory over your perverse will and the defects in your character? With the advancement you now make, your probation may close before you have made the determined efforts essential to give you the victory over self. You will, in the providence of God, be placed in positions where your peculiarities, if existing, will be tried and revealed. You neither see nor realize the effect of your thoughtless, impatient, complaining, whining words.” Ibid., 341, 342.

“Ungovernable passion will not be subdued in a moment; but your lifework is before you to rid the garden of the heart of the poisonous weeds of impatience, faultfinding, and an overbearing disposition.” Ibid., 365.

What is another way in which we may practice self-denial?

“Self-denial means to rule the spirit when passion is seeking for the mastery; to resist the temptation to censure and to speak faultfinding words; to have patience with the child that is dull and whose conduct is grievous and trying; to stand at the post of duty when others may fail; to lift responsibilities wherever and whenever you can, not for the purpose of applause, not for policy, but for the sake of the Master, who has given you a work to be done with unwavering fidelity; when you might praise yourself, to keep silent and let other lips praise you. Self-denial is to do good to others where inclination would lead you to serve and please yourself. Although your fellow men may never appreciate your efforts or give you credit for them, yet you are to work on.” Ibid., 521.

When will faultfinding cease?

“When Christ is in the heart it will be so softened and subdued by love for God and man that fretting, faultfinding, and contention will not exist there. The religion of Christ in the heart will gain for its possessor a complete victory over those passions that are seeking for the mastery.” Ibid., 610.

Faultfinding reveals a worldly spirit.

“The church is composed of imperfect, erring men and women, who call for the continual exercise of charity and forbearance. But there has been a long period of general lukewarmness; a worldly spirit coming into the church has been followed by alienation, faultfinding, malice, strife, and iniquity.” Ibid., vol. 5, 104.

If we have love in our hearts, how will it be revealed?

“Love vaunteth not itself. It is a humble element; it never prompts a man to boast, to exalt himself. Love for God and for our fellow men will not be revealed in acts of rashness nor lead us to be overbearing, faultfinding, or dictatorial. Love is not puffed up. The heart where love reigns will be guided to a gentle, courteous, compassionate course of conduct toward others, whether they suit our fancy or not, whether they respect us or treat us ill. Love is an active principle; it keeps the good of others continually before us, thus restraining us from inconsiderate actions lest we fail of our object in winning souls to Christ. Love seeks not its own. It will not prompt men to seek their own ease and indulgence of self. It is the respect we render to I that so often hinders the growth of love.” Ibid., 123, 124.

Which classes of individuals should not be allowed in the ministry?

“It is such workers that are needed in the cause of God today. The self-sufficient, the envious and jealous, the critical and faultfinding, can well be spared from His sacred work. They should not be tolerated in the ministry, even though they may apparently have accomplished some good. God is not straitened for men or means. He calls for workers who are true and faithful, pure and holy; for those who have felt their need of the atoning blood of Christ and the sanctifying grace of His Spirit.” Ibid., 224.

Which sins produce the greatest evil in the church and separate the church from the Holy Spirit?

“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 as the workings of Satan. Mutual love and confidence must be encouraged and strengthened in the members of the church. 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. This united action would bring a flood of light into the church and close the door to a flood of evil. Thus God would be glorified, and many souls would be saved.” Ibid., 609, 610.

“Believers have not infrequently allowed the enemy to work through them at the very time when they should have been wholly consecrated to God and to the advancement of His work. Unconsciously they have wandered far from the way of righteousness. Cherishing a spirit of criticism and faultfinding, of pharisaical piety and pride, they have grieved away the Spirit of God and have greatly retarded the work of God’s messengers.” Ibid., vol. 9, 125.

“As they assimilate their character to the divine Pattern, men will not guard their own personal dignity. With jealous, sleepless, loving, devoted interest, they will guard the sacred interest of the church from the evil which threatens to dim and cloud the glory that God intends shall shine forth through her. They will see that Satan’s devices have no place or countenance in her by encouraging faultfinding, gossiping, evilspeaking, and accusing of the brethren; for those things would weaken and overthrow her.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 406, 407.

Reform in speech is to begin at home.

“The Lord weighs our actions and our motives, and He will give great power to those who are His own. Christ is not divided; Christ in one worker will acknowledge Christ in a brother worker. Those who are exacting, who are faultfinding, who think evil of others, are advancing the work of the enemy, tearing down that which God would have built up. All these discordant elements represent the powers of darkness, and show that Christ, the hope of glory, is not found within.” Testimonies to Southern Africa, 26.

“If we are engaged in contentions and faultfinding when we ought to be doing our best for the Master, how can we expect God to bring souls into the truth, and trust them to our unfaithful, unchristlike guidance? Seek the Lord with all your heart; die to self. God’s people must be a unit, and the work must begin in our hearts. The work must begin in our own families. The true witness says, ‘I know thy works.’ You may be constantly imbibing the Spirit of Christ.” Ibid., 34.

What are we to do with unhappy thoughts?

“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. Souls are perishing in their sins. Work to the glory of God.” This Day With God, 347.

When is it impossible to be an overcomer?

“The life we now live must be by faith in Jesus Christ. If we are Christ’s followers our lives will not be as pieced out by little cheap spasmodic actions according to circumstances and surroundings—jerking actions, revealing feelings to be our master, indulging in little frettings, envious faultfindings, jealousies, and selfish vanity. These put us all out of harmony with the harmonious life of Jesus Christ, and we cannot be over-comers if we retain these defects. . . .” The Upward Look, 36.

What is the cause of the present feebleness in the church?

“Envy, evil surmising, backbiting, and faultfinding—let these not be named amongst Christ’s disciples. These things are the cause of the present feebleness of the church. We have a perfect pattern, even the life of Christ. It is to be our eager desire to do as He has done, to live as He lived, that others, seeing our good works, may be led to glorify God. The Lord’s blessing will rest upon us as we seek to bless others by doing the work that Christ came to this world to teach us how to do.” Ibid., 117.

“The slightest diversion from Christ is so much influence, power, and efficiency given to the enemy. The church was called into existence to counteract the influence of Satan; but as member after member of the church allows his ability and power to be diverted, one in one line and another in another line, connections are formed with the world, and the enemy of all righteousness triumphs. Almost imperceptibly the world’s standard, the world’s maxims and customs, are introduced into the church; and as these find room, the objectionable maxims and customs more boldly appear, and leaven the influence of the church; and Satan’s devices are successful, just as he has designed they should be. In this way there is brought into the church a mixed company, a divided service. Many profess to love God, yet they are serving mammon, and bowing at worldly shrines. The world is brought into the church, but not through repentance, contrition, and conversion, but because church-members become wedded to the world; and this unholy union is the explanation of the weakness and inefficiency of the church. It is made manifest when church-members follow the maxims of the world, that spiritual discernment is gone. Where this union is preserved, contention, criticism, faultfinding, strife, and decided hatred one of another comes in among those who should be servants of Jesus Christ.” Review and Herald, August 23, 1892.

“Envy, evil surmising, backbiting, and faultfinding,—let these not be named among Christ’s disciples. These things are the cause of the present feebleness of the church. We have a perfect Pattern, even the life of Christ. It is to be our eager desire to do as he has done, to live as he lived, that others, by seeing our good works, may be led to glorify God. The blessing of heaven will rest upon those who try to help others by doing the work that Christ came to do.” Ibid., May 10, 1906.

When Satan triumphs:

“Oh, I have been shown how he exults when we are overcome and the spirit of impatience and faultfinding is indulged. He is in an exultation of triumph, for he knows that this grieves the Spirit of God and separates us from our Strength. Our words must be faultless, our spirit patient, and kind, forbearing, long-suffering, and we manifesting by our words and actions that we have learned of Jesus and are still learning in the school of Christ. . . .” The Upward Look, 127.

“If we could discern the exultation of Satan when his temptations are received, when a captious, faultfinding, uncharitable spirit is revealed, there would be less judging one another.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Material, vol. 3, 1154.

How are the ears defiled?

“Let not one evil word escape our lips, because our lips, our voice, belong to the Lord, and must be consecrated to the Lord and to His service. These lips must not dishonor Jesus, for they belong to Him. He has bought them and I must speak nothing that will offend Jesus. My ears must be closed to evil. Thus day by day we can consecrate ourselves to God. The ears must not be defiled by listening to any gossip that faultfinding ones would have us hear, for I not only cause them to sin in allowing them to talk of others’ faults, but I sin myself in listening to them. I can prevent much evil speaking in thus having ears consecrated to God. I can say before the evil is done, ‘Let us pray,’ then ask God to enlighten both our minds to understand our true relation to one another and our true relation to God.” The Upward Look, 237.

What should we do when tempted to find fault?

“When tempted to speak words of faultfinding, begin to sing, ‘Praise ye the Lord.’ ” The Voice in Speech and Song, 152.

“Oh, pardon our transgressions, and forgive our sins! Show us where we have come short. Let Thy Holy Spirit descend upon us. The world is perishing in sin, and we ask Thee to roll the burden upon us at this meeting. We desire to be weighted down with the Holy Spirit. We desire to stand where Thou canst reveal Thyself to us. Take away our hardness of heart, and give us softened hearts. I ask Thee, for Christ’s sake, that Thou wouldst give understanding, that Thou wouldst give spiritual knowledge, that Thou wouldst give sensitive hearts, that all may see that it is high time to open the door of the heart to Jesus. Thou hast said that Thou hast heard the many words of complaint, and faultfinding, and murmuring, brother against brother, and friend against friend. Thou hast heard these words, and they are written in Thy book. They have stood as a block against the wheel of salvation, hindering its advancement. Convert Thy people in this the day of Thy preparation, that the time may not come when they will say, ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.’ ” The General Conference Bulletin, April 2, 1903.

To be continued . . .

Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life Ministry and pastor of the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

The Power of Speech, Part VIII

[Editor’s Note: This article continues a compilation of counsel given to strengthen and encourage anyone who is struggling through a crisis caused by the “Power of Speech.”]

What is one time when we should not speak?

“God lives and reigns, and if you take hold of His work cheerfully and willingly, He will bless and sustain you. When you are tempted to murmur and complain, keep your mouth closed. Remember that at such times silence is eloquence. Speak no words that you will not be willing to meet in the judgment. And remember that, when God sends His servants to do a hard work in a hard field, He does not want you to make their work harder by criticism and faultfinding.” Ibid., April 14, 1903.

“Silence is the greatest rebuke that you can possibly give a faultfinder or one whose temper is irritated.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 271.

If we are busy looking at the imperfections of others, what will be the result?

“But if any do not take upon them the yoke of Christ, if they do not cast away the yokes and burdens of their own manufacturing which gall so, they will be filled with dissatisfaction, complaints, faultfinding, and evil speaking. They will be so engaged in looking upon the imperfections of others that they will fail to see and appreciate that which is desirable and precious. They will fail to fill memory’s hall with the pictures of that which is pure and lovely and of good report.” Review and Herald, August 8, 1893.

To what should we open our hearts?

“My brethren, I charge you to close your ears to faultfinders, close your hearts that they shall not be recipients of evil seeds of suspicion and distrust, and open your hearts to the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. In the fold of Jesus Christ the sheep and the lambs are to be gathered in one flock, to be nourished, to be defended from the attacks of wolves.” Ibid., October 24, 1893.

Instead of faultfinding, what kinds of words are we to speak?

“If we have been critical and condemnatory, full of faultfinding, talking doubt and darkness, we have a work of repentance and reformation to do. We are to walk in the light, speaking words that will bring peace and happiness. Jesus is to abide in the soul. And where he is, instead of gloom, murmuring, and repining, there will be fragrance of character.” Ibid., June 12, 1894.

“ ‘They that feared the Lord,’ writes the prophet Malachi, ‘spake often one to another; and the Lord harkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.’ Were the words spoken, words of complaint, of faultfinding, of self-sympathy?—No; in contrast to those who speak against God, those who fear him speak words of courage, of thankfulness, and of praise. They do not cover the altar of God with tears and lamentations; they come with faces lighted up with the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and praise God for his goodness.” Ibid., January 5, 1897.

“Satan works untiringly to thwart the purpose of God, and he tempts the children of God to be severe upon the errors of others, while they themselves are careless in regard to their own course of action, and mingle defects with their work. There will always be something which we can criticize; but when we view things as God views them, we shall not look at the work of others with a critical eye, eager to find some flaw, but will seek to find something of which we can approve. Let him who makes criticism and faultfinding his first duty, who spends his God-given time in speaking words which sow the seeds of doubt and unbelief, take heed lest defects far more serious be found in his own character.” Ibid., February 16, 1897.

There are some workers whom Christ does not accept because of their speech.

“The Lord is displeased with many who claim to believe the truth. They act like unreasonable, passionate children. Christ can not accept their work. He does not need the service of those who are inspired by the enemy of all good. Many connected with the work of God give way to their temper. They fret and grumble when things do not move in a way that pleases them. The Lord is dishonored by this discontent and faultfinding. Those who give way to these traits of character can not inspire confidence as Christians.” Ibid., July 11, 1899.

Why we do not need to fight for our way:

“If those who fight for their own way would take time to think; if they would plead with God to give them self-control; if they would watch unto prayer, their words of complaint and faultfinding would be much fewer. They would not find pleasure in criticizing. Thankfulness would take possession of their poor, worrying, fretting hearts, and they would rest in God, trusting in him to steer the ship. God could manage if we had nothing to do or say, but he permits us, yes, he invites us, to cooperate with him.” Ibid.

What are three classes of words we should never speak?

“As a sacred trust the voice should be used to honor God. It should never utter harsh, impure words, or words of faultfinding. The gospel of Christ is to be proclaimed by the voice. With the talent of speech we are to communicate the truth as we have opportunity. It should ever be used in God’s service. But this talent is grievously abused. Words are spoken that do great harm. Christ declared, ‘Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.’ [Matthew 12:36, 37.]” Ibid., September 12, 1899.

What is the greatest cause of our weakness?

“The greatest cause of weakness among those who are looking for the Lord’s second coming is lack of love and confidence. This causes suspicion. There is a lack of frankness; the way is hedged up by supposition. 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. The leaven works, and the men God has appointed to do a certain work are regarded with suspicion and distrust, although there may not be the slightest cause for this. Unless this evil is uprooted, unless the Holy Spirit works to cast out the enemy, the life God designs to be a success will be a failure. Satan will make the mind a depository for his insinuations, and the man will lose the battle, when he might have gone forward to victory.” Ibid., October 17, 1899.

“My brother, my sister, be afraid to find fault, afraid to talk against your fellow workers. You have enlisted to fight against Satan’s forces, and you have no time to fight against your fellow soldiers. The truly converted man has no inclination to think or talk of the faults of others. His lips are sanctified, and as God’s witness he testifies that the grace of Christ has transformed his heart. He realizes that he can not afford to talk discouragement or unbelief. He can not afford to be harsh or faultfinding. He has not received orders to punish the erring and sinful by heaping abuse upon them.” Ibid., November 24, 1904.

Should we try to find someone to criticize? Should we say nothing when we see something wrong?

“I ask you never to find fault with what has been done here; for I have seen the angels of God working here, encouraging the workers, and leading them to lift their eyes to see their Redeemer and be strengthened. I have seen the angels of God on this ground with the youth and with the other workers. I have seen the power of God at work here, and I wish to tell you that I want this meeting to be an everlasting cure of your faultfinding and murmuring and trying to find some one to criticize. May God help us all to humble our hearts before him and be converted.” Ibid., May 25, 1905.

“We are not to watch for an opportunity to find fault, if a brother does not speak exactly as we wish him to speak. Perhaps God does not want him to speak as you want him to. His words may cut you to the quick, but even then you are not at liberty to find fault. The talent of speech was given to us that we might speak, not words of faultfinding, but words of counsel, words of encouragement, words of reproof. Because we are not to find fault, this does not mean that we are to pass by things that are wrong, without saying a word. If you see one doing wrong, go right to him, and tell him his fault in the way outlined in the Scriptures. In the meekness of Christ tell him the truth, and you may save his soul from death. But if you gloss over the mistakes, leaving those who have made them to think that they have done nothing wrong, you must share in the punishment, because you were unfaithful to your trust.” Ibid., July 20, 1905.

God is not in the “differences.”

“My dear brethren and sisters, God is not pleased with a spirit of criticism and faultfinding. We must humble our hearts daily before God, and seek for a new conversion, that we may be brought into right relationship with Christ Jesus. Those who are striving to keep the commandments of God, ought to be in harmony, and to show a spirit of humility and love. God is not in any of the differences that are so apparent. He does not inspire words of faultfinding. He is now calling upon us to humble ourselves under the hand of the Almighty, in order that he may lift us up.” Ibid., December 13, 1906.

We have better ways to spend our time and energies than to engage in slander.

“Few have felt a heavy burden for souls. How much more might have been accomplished had the time spent by God’s people in faultfinding been spent in encouraging one another, and in active service! How much better for voices to blend in prayer, in holy unison, than to be employed in finding fault! We have no time for faultfinding or criticism.” Ibid., January 3, 1907.

“Do not find fault and criticize. Thus you spend your energies in Satan’s cause. Do not give way to anger because you think that you are misunderstood. Was not your Master misunderstood? Speak no word of doubt or unbelief. The more you talk of the difficulties in the way, the larger will they appear. Do not accuse your brethren. Rather accuse yourselves. An untold amount of mischief is done by words of faultfinding and slander. Never tear down the reputation of a fellow being.” Ibid., November 10, 1910.

The surest way to become weak spiritually:

“There is no surer way of weakening ourselves in spiritual things than to be envious, suspicious of one another, full of faultfinding and evil-surmising. ‘This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.’ [James 3:15–18.]” Ibid., July 27, 1911.

God wants us to appear at our best always.

“Satan is an accuser of the brethren. He is on the watch for every error, no matter how small, that he may have something on which to found an accusation. Keep off of Satan’s side. It is true that you should give no occasion for faultfinding. A moment’s petulance, a single gruff answer, the want of Christian politeness and courtesy in some small matter, may result in the loss of friends, in the loss of influence. God would have you appear at your best under all circumstances, in the presence of those who are inferior to you as well as in the presence of equals and superiors. We are to be followers of Christ at all times, seeking his honor, seeking to rightly represent him in every way, that we may be lights in the world, showing forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. We are not to exalt our own opinions above those of others. If our ideas are superior to those of others, it will be made manifest without special effort on our part.” Ibid., November 7, 1912.

To be continued . . .

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

The Power of Speech, Part IX

[Editor’s Note: This article concludes a compilation of counsel given to strengthen and encourage anyone who is struggling through a crisis caused by the “Power of Speech.”]

Why the church is continually weak:

“God may choose instrumentalities that we do not accept, because they do not exactly meet our ideas. They do not work in the very line marked out as perfect, and in place of leaving them with God, for His Spirit to work with them, many begin to present difficulties, barricade the way, and cherish a grieved feeling because they see that they are doing a work that has not been done. Then begins the dissecting of character and the gathering up of tidbits of complaints, and faultfinding and slander, and magnifying of little occurrences and events into grave sins. This has been done in the church until we are weak, and we will always be weak unless this narrow order of things is changed. May the Lord show you all what to do that you may be filled with thanksgiving, gratitude and praise to God for the precious gift of the Son of God, and put away envyings, jealousies and rivalries, that true love and unity may exist.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, 265.

Faultfinders and their sympathizers are to be disfellowshipped.

“There are those members who are busybodies, speaking evil, sowing the seeds of doubt and infidelity, who pay no heed to the light God has given them in His Word. If we have but one church member who by his spirit, words, and influence seeks to counterwork the influence of the minister of Christ, labor with that one faithfully; and if after taking the steps required by Christ, he will not hear, will not change his course of action, then separate him from the church, and let him know the reason why the church cannot hold him in her fellowship. And if there are those who sympathize with him, who will not discern the right from the wrong, who, after patient instruction has been given them, choose to keep on the wrong side, let them also be suspended. God’s name must not be dishonored by murmurers, faultfinders, and those who are continually sowing seeds of disaffection.” Ibid., vol. 15, 163, 164.

We are not to yield to a faultfinding element in the church.

“It is so childish and inconsistent and miserable a mess that I do not think (it) possible for me to write. These murmurings, faultfinding, these exalting little motes to mention this. Making a man an offender for a word is a grievous sin in the sight of God. But this battle has turned; victory through Jesus Christ is ours. And we know the battle must be fought sometime and it must be done without yielding one inch to gratify and please this faultfinding, disorderly element.” Ibid., vol. 20, 360.

The faultfinder is not converted.

“We may make mistakes, and we may have to ‘admonish one another.’ But there has come into the churches at Oakland and the surrounding community a spirit of backbiting, of faultfinding and evil-speaking, which demonstrates that you are not converted. Words are uttered that never should pass the lips of a Christian. My brethren and sisters, when you have nothing better to speak of than something about the faults of others, remember that ‘silence is eloquence.’ Cease to dwell upon the shortcomings of others. Keep the tongue sanctified unto God. Refrain from saying anything that might detract from the influence of another; for by indulging in these words of criticism, you blaspheme God’s holy name as verily as you would were you to swear.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 367.

Satan tempts men to call reproof “faultfinding” (or accusing), saying that they are misused, etc.

“I see perplexities on every side. As character develops man and woman will take their position, for varied circumstances brought to bear upon them will cause them to reveal the spirit which prompts them to action. Every one will reveal the character of the bundle with which he is binding himself. The wheat is being bound up for the heavenly garner. The true people of God are now bound up for the heavenly garner. The true people of God are now pulling apart, and the tares are being bound in bundles ready to burn. Decided positions will be taken. Satan will move upon minds that have been indulged, upon men who have always had their own way, and anything presented to them in counsel or reproof to change their objectionable traits of character is considered faultfinding, binding them, restraining them, that they cannot have liberty to act themselves. The Lord in great mercy has sent messages of warning to them, but they would not listen to reproof. Like the enemy who rebelled in heaven, they do not like to hear, do not correct the wrong they have done but become accusers, declaring themselves misused and unappreciated.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 3, 995.

Do we have a Christlike character?

“When Christ was living on this earth, how surprised would have been His associates, if, after becoming acquainted with Him, they had heard Him utter one word of impatience, one word of accusation or of faultfinding! He expects those who love Him and believe in Him, to represent Him in character.” The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, 16.

“The children of God should never be rough and discourteous in their bearing toward one another. They should never blame and condemn. To those who want to give vent to a spirit of faultfinding, I would say, Go out among the rocks and stumps, and there relieve your mind of its evil thoughts; for these inanimate objects will not be harmed by your words. Only your own soul will suffer. After you have talked it all out, consider that it is written in the books of heaven what manner of spirit you are of. Then come to God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, confess your need, and plead for his grace to make you one of his humble children. Let the ambition you have be exercised in a way that will bless needy souls.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 407.

“It is not the opposition of the world that most endangers the church of Christ. It is the evil cherished in the hearts of believers that works their most grievous disaster and most surely retards the progress of God’s cause. There is no surer way of weakening spirituality than by cherishing envy, suspicion, faultfinding, and evil surmising.” The Acts of the Apostles, 549.

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Words, Part II

A statement in The Signs of the Times, November 11, 1903, speaks of the power of love: “Never treat your children harshly; for harshness arouses stubbornness and resistance. You will find that they are most easily and successfully governed by kindness and gentleness.” Kindness and gentleness is what we need. “Love breaks down all barriers, and gentleness subdues the most stubborn will. Treat your children as you would wish to be treated were you in their place. Let there be no scolding, no loud-voiced, angry commands.” Ibid. Do not be discouraged, friends. Remember to have faith and say, “Lord, this is how You have told me to speak. I am choosing to follow Your counsel. Give me the grace to speak this way.” Friends, the Lord will do it. The Lord will answer your prayer. If you keep praying, the Lord will keep answering.

No Disagreements

Counsel is also given that the father and mother, in reference to their speech, should not have verbal disagreements between themselves in the children’s presence. Mrs. White says, “Not a particle of variance should be shown by parents in the management of their children. Parents are to work together as a unit. There must be no division. But many parents work at cross-purposes, and thus the children are spoiled by mismanagement. If parents do not agree, let them absent themselves from the presence of their children until an understanding can be arrived at.” Review and Herald, March 30, 1897. Oh friends, if parents would honor this, it would save so much trouble in the home.

As parents, we must have a united front. We must not have the father saying one thing and the mother saying another. That will destroy harmony, and it will ruin the child. Having said this, it does not mean we are to be wishy-washy. When we say, “No,” it has to mean no, and when we say, “Yes,” it has to mean yes.

“Scolding, loud-voiced commands, or threatenings should never be heard. Parents should keep the atmosphere of the home pure and fragrant with kind words, with tender sympathy and love; but at the same time, they are to be firm and unyielding in principle.” Ibid. If a principle is involved, we are not to give way. “If you are firm with your children [this simply means that when you say, ‘No,’ it means no], they may think that you do not love them.” They may think this way for a while, but Mrs. White says, “This you may expect; but never manifest harshness. Justice and mercy must clasp hands; there must be no wavering or impulsive movements.” Ibid.

True Words

Counsel has been given on a subject about which you would think Christians would never need to be counseled, but Ellen White spent considerable time on this subject. Our words at home are always to be true. Oh friends, one of my cherished memories of my own home is that I can never, ever remember either my father or my mother, at any time, telling me something that was not true. My parents did not have to explain to me, as I grew up, that there was not a Santa Claus, because they had never told me that there was a Santa Claus. Neither did they have to explain to me that there was no real Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse or a hundred other things that some children believe. If you tell your children fictitious or untrue stories or speak anything that is untrue, someday their confidence in you is going to be weakened, because a child believes everything that their parents tell them—until they find out their parents do not always tell the truth. Then they flip the other way, and they do not believe anything their parents say.

Mrs. White says, “Never let your children have the semblance of an excuse for saying, Mother does not tell the truth. Father does not tell the truth.” Review and Herald, April 13, 1897. Children, from their earliest years, should have confidence that if mommy said it, it is so. If daddy said it, it is so. We often do not realize how our words affect whether or not our children are going to believe what they hear in Sabbath School or church.


Ellen White also speaks about criticism. She wrote, “We should abstain from all evil-speaking and evil-surmising.” Review and Herald, April 21, 1891. Do you know what evil surmising is? I suppose it is something that every individual has been tempted to do at some time or another. Have you ever had suspicions about someone or something—you did not yet have the facts, but things just did not seem right to you? When this happens, you may have suspicions, and you may have to watch things develop, but it is dangerous to talk about your suspicions. This is evil surmising. You think something is bad; you do not yet have the facts; you do not yet have the evidence, but it looks bad. You think there is something awry, so you start talking about it, which starts all kinds of trouble in homes and churches and institutions and everywhere else.

“We should abstain from all evil-speaking and evil-surmising. Our children will be in danger of losing all respect for religion if we indulge in criticism of others.” Ibid.

I have thought about this so many times. How would I feel if someone who knew me really well began telling everybody all of the mistakes I have made? I have made so many mistakes that if anyone but the Lord knew them all, I suppose they would think that I am a bad person. I would prefer that all of the mistakes I have made not be publicized to everybody. Do you suppose that there are other people who feel the same way? When we are talking about the subject of criticism, people think that we are talking about something that is not true, but this is not the case. We can destroy each other while telling the truth! We can destroy our neighbors, and in the process, we will destroy our children. Ellen White says that they will lose all respect for religion.

Respect Those Older

The relationship of our children with the elderly has become very painful in America today. Our young people do not respect older people. Ellen White wrote: “Teach your children to be kind and courteous to all, and especially to respect the old. If you do all that God has given you to do, you will have no time to criticize your neighbor.” Ibid.

Jesting and Joking

I was once acquainted with a person who told a lot of jokes. He was one of the funniest persons I ever knew. When I was with him, I laughed and laughed and laughed, and everybody else did, too. He was a religious person, but when he would give a testimony in church, the young people did not give it much account. Our words need to be true.

When I was in academy, I learned how to tell jokes. I was very fortunate that about the time I started learning how to tell jokes, I read some statements in the Spirit of Prophecy stating that if I jested and joked, I would lose the Holy Spirit. When I found that out, I had to make a decision whether I was going to be a jester and a joker and a popular person, or whether I was going to have the Holy Spirit.

In the same article, it says, “Instead of indulging in jesting and joking, suppose you begin to exalt Jesus, talking of his wonderful charms.” Ibid. Oh friends, that is what we need in our homes. That is what we need in our churches. We need to be exalting Jesus and talking of His wonderful charms, the unsearchable riches of Christ.

The Way Jesus Spoke

One of the main facets of the unsearchable riches of Christ is the way that He spoke. When the people that were sent to arrest Jesus returned without Him, the rulers and the Pharisees asked, “Why did you not bring Him?” They said, “Never a man spoke like this Man.” (John 7:45, 46.)

Friends, if we would learn to speak in our homes as did Jesus, the Christian religion would have an irresistible power, a charm over our children. They would go out from home, telling whomever they meet that the Christian religion is true. They would know it is true, because they have seen the image of Christ demonstrated by their father or their mother. The way we speak at home can mean the salvation of our children. It could be one of the most powerful Christian influences on our children, if we learn to speak to each other in our homes like Christ spoke. You know the children are listening to the way that we as parents speak to each other.

“If you had good home religion, you would be a bright and shining light, and represent Christ to a lost world.” Review and Herald, April 21, 1891.

“In the parable of the virgins, five were found wise, and five foolish. Can it be possible that half of us will be found without the oil of grace in our lamps?” Ibid. The apostle Paul said that our speech is always to be with grace. (Colossians 4:6.) “Shall we come to the marriage feast too late? We have slept too long; shall we sleep on, and be lost at last? Are there those here who have been sinning and repenting, sinning and repenting, and will they continue to do so till Christ shall come?” Ibid.

Mothers’ Words

Ellen White had some special words of counsel to speak to mothers concerning their words. These are some of the most beautiful statements in all of the Spirit of Prophecy, in my opinion, in relation to speech.

She says, “It is the heart that needs culture; for it is with the heart-life that women have to do. . . . The precious, finer feelings are to be carefully nourished that they may bloom into actions of goodness, truth, and holiness. . . . The words that are spoken by a mother should be choice words.” The Signs of the Times, March 23, 1891. God will give you the power to do it. He will give you the grace to do it.

“The mother should keep herself under perfect control, doing nothing that will arouse in the child a spirit of defiance. She is to give no loud-voiced commands. She will gain much by keeping the voice low and gentle. . . . If she is a wise Christian, she will not attempt to force the child to submit. She prays earnestly, and as she prays, she is conscious of a renewal of spiritual power. She sees that the same power that is working in her is working also in the child. He becomes more gentle, more submissive. The battle is won.” Ibid., April 1, 1903.

Our Child’s Faults

We are not to mention our children’s faults in the presence of others. “Remember that your child has rights which should be respected. Be very careful never to bring against him an unjust charge. Never punish him [now read this carefully] without giving him an opportunity to explain. Listen patiently to his troubles and perplexities. Never tell others in his hearing of his faults, or his clever sayings or doings. Even in the presence of his brothers and sisters these things should not be spoken of.” Ibid., April 23, 1902.

She goes on to say, “By speaking of his bright words and acts, you encourage self-confidence. By speaking of his faults, you humiliate him without softening him. Hatred springs up in his heart against your course, which he regards as cruel and unjust.” Ibid.

Heaven Talk

Friends, the things we have been studying are the way in which people talk in heaven. They do not speak any unpleasant words there. There are no loud, angry-voiced commands there, no angry, passionate words. They do not utter any unpleasant words there. In fact, a statement from Upward Look, 163, says, “No unpleasant words are spoken in heaven. There no unkind thoughts are cherished. There envy, evil surmising, hatred, and strife find no place.” We are to learn here how to speak, so we will be able to go to heaven. We are to learn it here, and the place we learn it, friends, is in our homes.


When I was a boy, I thought that everybody in the Adventist Church understood this, but I have had cause to wonder. The apostle James says, “He that does not offend in word is a perfect man.” James 3:2.

I do not know about you, but I have had to go to many people a number of times in my life and confess that what I had said was either not so or not right. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.

Friends, the Lord wants to cleanse us from our improper speech. He wants to cleanse us from all the things that we have said in the past to our wives or our husbands or our children that have been wrong. But He cannot do it if we do not confess. This is so simple and basic; I was a minister for a number of years before I realized that there were many Christians who did not understand this.

Confession of sin is not just kneeling down by your bed at night and saying, “Lord, I confess my sins.” That is not proper confession; it is not wrong, but Ellen White states, in the chapter “Confession,” in Steps to Christ, that true confession is specific. Friends, if the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart right now and telling you that you have something to confess to someone about words you have spoken, I want to appeal to you to not forget it. Write it down right now. Do not let the day go by—maybe you need to write a letter or make a long-distance telephone call.

If we want to reform our speech, one of the first steps is to confess what we have spoken that has injured or damaged someone else or is untrue or is unkind. That is a first step in procuring the kind of speech we desire in our homes.

Maybe you need to confess something to your children. Your child will never turn away from the Christian religion because you decided to confess your sins, because you decided to say to him or her, “I am sorry I said or did this to you and I want you to forgive me.” Your child will not turn away from the Christian religion when you do that.

Unless we confess our sins, the Holy Spirit cannot come into our lives and give us the power that we need to change. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes [them] will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. That is talking about eternal prosperity, not just temporal prosperity.

Friends, I stand myself in very great need of mercy, do you? I know that if I am going to receive the mercy of God in my life, I must confess, and then I must forsake. Do you want that experience? Decide right now you are not going to let the day go by before making whatever confession to whomever you need to make it. It may take you more than one day.

When I first became convicted on this subject, it was as a result of a sermon I listened to by a retired Adventist minister who said that when he became a Christian, he had to write 726 letters of confession. I hope that you do not have to write that many, but I would write however many letters I need to write or call however many people I need to call, to have a clear conscience.

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

The Tongue of Slander

During the rise and progress of the third message, the tongue of slander has not been silent. Men will use the best arguments they have. When unable from the Bible to meet the positions of those who teach unpopular truth, some will resort to slander as the next best argument. The case is sometimes felt to be urgent and even desperate. Truth is mighty. The people will hear, and some will obey. These are frequently the best members of the various religious bodies. Efforts at argument from the Bible, in opposition, fail to silence the voice of truth, and in some cases turn the minds of many of the people to the truth. Something must be done. And it is painful to record, that in many cases professed ministers of Jesus Christ deal in smut and blacking, and stoop to invent and repeat the vilest slanders to prejudice the people against those who plead for the truth of God.

“There are hundreds of ministers in the United States who, if disturbed in their quiet possession of the ears of the people, by the proclamation of the unpopular truths of the third message in their vicinity, would take delight in repeating the old threadbare falsehoods concerning ascension robes, and the like, to cut off the influence of the servant of God.

“In almost every place where our ministers give discourses upon the second coming of Christ, and the necessary preparation for that event, they have to labor against the prejudices of the people, caused by reports of the inconsistencies of Adventists; one of which is, that at a point of expectation in the past, many of them did prepare robes of white linen, and put them on ready to ascend and meet their coming Lord.

“While all sane persons, who have any knowledge of what the holy Scriptures do teach of the necessary preparation to meet the Lord as he shall descend from Heaven, will agree that to prepare a literal white robe made of cloth as a fitting preparation for the transit from earth to Heaven, from mortality to immortality, must be an indication of downright insanity, none will see in such an act evidences of criminality.

“But I do not believe that anything of the kind ever occurred. I have been actively engaged in the proclamation of the doctrine of the second advent for more than twenty-five years, and have traveled and preached in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Canada, and have not met a person who has seen an Adventist thus attired, or one that was able to give better proofs that anything of the kind ever did occur than vague reports. I have never found the place where the thing occurred. It was always in the next town, county, or State.

“Again, reports in relation to this matter, and slanders of a similar nature, have a hundred times been denied in Second-Advent periodicals, and proofs have been called for of the truthfulness of these statements. No one has been able to produce the proofs. But still the tongue of slander takes delight in repeating the old threadbare falsehood. Elders Loughborough and Strong met it at Orange, Michigan, in January, 1868, and Elder Cornell met the same at Johnstown, Michigan, a few weeks later. In both cases the miserable untruth was declared from the pulpit by professed ministers of Jesus Christ.

“The people, generally, credit the statements of these ministers, and conclude that the story of ascension robes is true. Especially do those who are not favorable to Second-Advent views enjoy this sort of clerical slander. And the fact that our people are not always prepared to meet it, is the reason why I have felt called upon to notice the matter at this time.

“In 1847, while on our passage in a steamboat from Portland, Maine, to Boston, Massachusetts, Mrs. W. was speaking to those around her in the ladies’ cabin, of the fearful storm we encountered in a recent passage between these two cities. She spoke of the importance of being always prepared for the close of our probation, either at death, or at the coming of Christ. A lady near her replied:

“ ‘That is the way the Millerites talk. I mean to have a jolly good time before I become a long-faced Christian. The Millerites are the most deluded set on earth. On the day they were expecting Christ to come, companies in different places put on their ascension robes, and went into graveyards, and upon the tops of houses and high hills, and there remained, praying and singing till the time passed by.’

“Mrs. W. then inquired of the lady if she saw any of these persons thus attired. She answered:

“ ‘No, I did not see them myself, but a friend who saw them told me. And the fact is so well understood everywhere, that I believe it as much as though I saw it myself.’

“At this point another lady, feeling that the testimony of the first should not be questioned, stated:

“ ‘It is of no use to deny that the Millerites did put on ascension robes, for they did it in towns all around where I live.’

“Mrs. W. asked this lady if she saw them with their robes on. She replied:

“ ‘No, I did not see them, as they were not in my immediate neighborhood. But it was commonly reported and generally believed, that they did make ascension robes and put them on.’

“By this time strong feelings were evidently controlling these two ladies, because Mrs. W. did not seem to credit what they said against the Millerites. And the first in the conversation stated with emotions of excitement and passion:

“ ‘I know it was so. I fully believe the testimony of those who have told me these things. I believe what my friends have told me about those fanatical Millerites, the same as though I saw it myself.’

“Mrs. W. then inquired of her for the names of some persons who had figured in this fanatical movement. She stated if the putting on of ascension robes was so very common, certainly she could give the names of some. To this she replied:

“ ‘Certainly I can give you names. There were the twin Harmon girls in Portland. My friends told me that they saw their robes, and saw them going out to the graveyard with them on. Since the time has passed, they have become infidels.’

“A school-mate of Mrs. W., who had never been an Adventist, was in that cabin, and had watched the conversation with mirthful interest. She had been acquainted with the Harmon girls during the entire period of their Second-Advent experience. She could no longer restrain her feelings, and broke out in a laughing mood, as she pointed to Mrs. W.:

“ ‘This is one of those twin Harmon girls. I have known them always, and know that this report of their making and wearing ascension robes is all a lie. I never was a Millerite, yet I do not believe that anything of the kind ever took place.’

“The storm that was fast arising in that cabin suddenly abated, and there followed a great calm. Mrs. W. then stated that all the stories about ascension robes were probably as destitute of truth as this one concerning the twin Harmon girls.

“Elder Josiah Litch, lately editor of the Advent Herald, Boston, in his history of the rise and progress of Adventism, makes the following statement:

“ ‘Those periods came and passed with no unusual occurrence. As soon as they had gone by, a flood of scoffing, reviling and persecution burst forth, not from the infidel world so much, but from the professed friends of the Saviour; the most idle and foolish stories of ascension robes, and going out into the graveyards to watch, going to the tops of the houses, etc., etc. These were repeated again and again, both from pulpit and press, until the public were, many of them, at least, almost persuaded to believe them true.

“ ‘How, or where they originated, except in willful falsehood, we cannot devise. Some of the reports of that character, we happen to know, originated with professed ministers of the gospel, who gave date and place when there was not a word of truth in the whole story. Others must have originated in a similar way.’ ”

The foregoing, relative to the ascension robes, was given in the Review and Herald for April 14, 1868. The article closed with the following paragraph:

“Fifty dollars reward is offered to any person who will present unquestionable proofs of the truthfulness of the statements, that believers in the second advent of Christ, on the day of expectation, did put on ascension robes. Those who can produce such proofs, are requested to forward them immediately to the writer, at Greenville, Montcalm County, Michigan, and receive fifty dollars by return mail.”

Up to this date, July 13, 1868, no one has responded in the way of furnishing proofs that anything of the kind ever took place. Why this silence on the part of our friends, as well as our enemies, if there be the least semblance of truth in the statements upon this subject, gravely made by ministers in the desk as a part of the gospel they preach? If proofs exist, why can we not have them? The reader should regard these statements about ascension robes, which opposing clergymen have the credit of repeating, more than any other class, as malicious slanders, until he has reliable proofs that something of the kind occurred.

The Review and Herald for May 20, 1868, has the following from Elder J. H. Waggoner, which fairly represents this matter of ascension robes:

“Brother White’s remarks on the falsehoods circulated on the above subject, remind me of an incident that transpired some years since in Wisconsin. A Mr. H., an M.E. preacher, deriding the Adventists, said: ‘It is a fact that they prepared and put on ascension robes in 1844.’ At the close of his remarks I stated that I was very anxious to learn about the facts on that subject, and asked him to give particulars, as to where, by whom, etc. He said that it was not always convenient to give the evidence on matters which had transpired years in the past, and he could not then comply with the request. I turned to the congregation and said:

“ ‘He has said it is a fact. Now if he does not know it to be a fact, he has made a false statement. If he knows it to be a fact, he can procure the evidence of the fact. As he has an appointment here four weeks from today, I give notice that I will be here at that time to get his statement; as that will give him time to get the information. If it occurred anywhere, it will be easy to prove it in that locality. I hope the people will all be here to get the facts he may present.’

“Being thus pressed to make good his assertion, and having the expectation of the people raised on it, he saw the necessity of doing something, and promptly confessed that he knew nothing about it, but had heard such a report!

“The way the report ran was well illustrated by the following case: A Brother T., who had lived and labored in Buffalo, and attended the Advent meetings there, was working in Erie in the fall of 1844. After the set day passed, the report spread in Erie that the Adventists in Buffalo put on ascension robes. He was so grieved over their folly, and troubled in his mind, that he determined to visit his friends in Buffalo and talk with them about it. Landing at Buffalo, he met an acquaintance, not an Adventist, who did not know where he came from. He asked if any of the Adventists in Buffalo had put on ascension robes. ‘No,’ said his friend, ‘but they all did in Erie!’ A smile by Brother T. led to an explanation. And so it was everywhere. Everybody knew it was so—the place where it occurred could not be found.”

The part which the Spirit of God has led Mrs. W. to act in close connection with the cause of present truth, has called forth against her a spirit of persecution. The apostle says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31. But these have been employed against her by the professed followers of Jesus Christ, with the object to crush her testimony and destroy her influence. In this cruel work, with some the tongue of slander has been “set on fire of hell.”

The work of the Lord through her has been to encourage the weak, comfort the desponding, exalt the standard of morality and true piety, and reprove sin in all its forms. And why should not the dragon rage? Why may we not expect to see those who are imbued with the spirit of the father of lies, delighting themselves in the most slanderous falsehoods against one who may be engaged in such a work? Such has ever been the work of Satan in all past time, and ever will be, till he is bound. And he has ever found, and ever will find, willing tools to do his work in opposition to the work of God. And these are more frequently found among ministers than any other class. The following from Elder M. E. Cornell, which occurred on his route from Battle Creek to Ionia, will illustrate the wicked course of some of those who love to be called “Reverend:”

“While on the cars, a circumstance occurred which shows the necessity of Brother White’s article on Clerical Slander. A Presbyterian minister from Gratiot County was making special efforts to attract attention to himself by his endeavors to amuse the passengers. Among other things, he states that Mrs. White had a vision at St. Louis, Gratiot County, Michigan, that she was to leave her husband and take another man; that a man might have as many wives as he chose. He then made some, not very refined, remarks and witticisms, which excited laughter in some, but disgust in the pure-minded. In the cars were several clergymen, and many intelligent ladies and gentlemen from several different States. Of course we could not let such a base slander pass, and a wrong impression go to so many different places; we therefore watched for a chance to correct the misstatement.

“An intelligent Jew soon entered into conversation with him, and turned the tables on him by relating an old slander against Martin Luther, that he had a child by his own daughter, etc. The minister was aroused. Said he, ‘It is a base slander, invented by his enemies. There is not a particle of proof of any such thing.’ He then came down upon the Jew with the most cutting reproof for making such a statement from hearsay evidence. Now our time had come. The measure he had meted to others had been immediately measured to him again.

“We then stated to the passengers that we had known Elder White and his wife for sixteen years, and that the statement made by the clergyman was an unmitigated slander. First, Mrs. White never had a vision in Gratiot County; and second, she never had a vision anywhere, of any such nature as had been stated. We then challenged him to stop at Owasso, with any of his friends as witnesses, and we would secure for him one thousand dollars, on the condition that he should make good his statement. We urged him to the task with such earnestness, that all in the car appeared to be convinced that he had uttered a slander. He was embarrassed, and said faintly, ‘I heard so’!

“An intelligent Infidel, from Dearborn, Michigan, then rose up, and made some very pointed remarks on hearsay evidence and condemning a whole body of people because of a story about some one of their number. ‘Shall I,’ said he; ‘call the Methodists a set of cut-throats, because several of their preachers are now in our penitentiary? Shall I condemn all ministers because one in our town ran away with Brother M.’s wife last week?’ By this time, the tide was turned completely. Several of the passengers expressed themselves very freely to me, and were anxious to know more about it.” Advent Review for April 28, 1868.

I do not believe that all ministers who differ with us in faith and practice are alike guilty with this man. No decent men, in or out of the ministry, would take pleasure in uttering such vile slander before a car full of ladies and gentlemen, however much he might feel opposed to the religious sentiments of Seventh-day Adventists. I believe there are God-fearing ministers in all the churches who would no sooner bear false witness of a slanderous character against those who are devoting their lives to the cause of Christ, than they would have the same done to themselves. But while these may be few and far between, the experience of a quarter of a century in teaching unpopular truth has taught me that, where personal interest is concerned, there are but very few ministers who will not stoop to the repetition of the vilest slanders, to injure the influence of those who get the ears of the people, if they differ with them. But in reference to the statements of Elder Cornell, I will say:

  1. Mrs. W. never was at St. Louis, Gratiot County, Michigan.
  2. She never had a vision in Gratiot County.
  3. Her standard of morality ever has been the Ten Commandments.
  4. Her views, her public and private labors, her books and oral teachings, have ever been in strict harmony with the law of God, the highest standard of morality on earth.
  5. She has ever borne the most decided testimony against any departure from the principles guarded by the Ten Commandments.
  6. She has borne a public testimony for twenty-five years, in the several States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and in Canada. She has, during this time, written books amounting to more than twenty-one hundred pages, besides many articles for several periodicals. And all who are acquainted with her teachings know that any statement that they are not in strict harmony with God’s standard of morality, is a slanderous untruth. Then let her enemies point to one impure sentence in all her writings, or prove that in her religious teachings she has uttered one unchaste word, or cease their slanderous persecution of a self-sacrificing Christian woman.

But I do not indulge the thought that whatever may be said to show the falsity of statements concerning ascension robes, and the views of Mrs. W., will silence the tongue of slander. No. These ministers know the influence they have with the public mind, and the advantages they have over us in this respect. Regardless of justice and truth, they will doubtless continue to do this scandalous work, wherever the glorious doctrine of the coming of Jesus shall be proclaimed. We can only expose their sin in this thing, and disabuse honest minds.

The dragon is wroth with those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. The Devil will use any willing tool to slander and abuse the followers of Jesus Christ. Scoffers will scoff, and liars will lie, whether they bear the title of Reverend, or be patrons of brothels. And the higher the position, the greater the criminality. But for all these things will God bring them into Judgment. Those who fear God and keep His commandments, and suffer reproach for the sake of Christ and the truth, will have their reward. Those who employ the vile tongue of slander against them, in order to crush their influence and keep others from obeying the commandments that they may live, will perish in all their villainy. They, also, will have their reward. The True Witness has spoken relative to the present controversy and the final destiny of both classes of actors, as recorded by the prophet John.

First Class. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14. These are doing right. Although they suffer for well doing, all the hate and slander that wicked men and demons can invent, their reward is the holy city and the tree of life.

Second Class. “For without are dogs, and scorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Revelation 22:15. These are commandment-breakers, and commandment-haters, and haters of those who keep the commandments of God. They are also noted for two things in particular, namely, loving and making lies. The application of these two items is so natural to these reports of ascension robes and the like, that no further comment is needed. They make lies, and love to publish them from the pulpit and the religious press. But, thank God, in the Judgment they are without. The happiness of those who love God and keep His commandments is then no more to be marred by their poisonous influence. Would God that they would repent of, and forsake, their wicked course, and live, and finally share the holy city and the tree of life. But as they will not do this work, that they may share that reward, their corrupting influence must be borne with Christian patience and fortitude while the controversy lasts.


Evil Surmising Versus Reproof in the Spirit of Prophecy

“That which Satan plants in the heart—envy, jealousy, evil surmising, evil speaking, impatience, prejudice, selfishness, covetousness, and vanity—must be uprooted. If these evil things are allowed to remain in the soul, they will bear fruit by which many shall be defiled. Oh, how many cultivate the poisonous plants, that kill out the precious fruits of love and defile the soul!” My Life Today, 179.


What must happen before the latter rain can fall on God’s people?


“When the latter rain is poured out, the church will be clothed with power for its work; but the church as a whole will never receive this until its members shall put away from among them, envy, evil-surmisings, and evil-speaking. Those who cherish these sins know not the blessed experience of love; they are not awake to the fact that the Lord is testing and proving their love for him by the attitude they assume toward one another. When this commandment is obeyed, envy, evil-speaking, evil-surmising, and evil-thinking will not be indulged; they will have no part in the formation of character.” Review and Herald, October 6, 1896.

“The church will never as a whole receive the latter rain unless they shall put away all envy, evil surmising, and evil speaking. Those who have cherished hatred in the heart until it has strengthened and become part of their character, must have a different experience if they would share in the latter rain. Many are not awake to the fact that the Lord is testing and proving them to make it manifest whether or not they really love Jesus. The spirit and attitude manifested to their brethren, tells their spirit and attitude toward God.” The Home Missionary, August 1, 1896.


What is the effect of evil-speaking?


“As the leaven spreads through the meal in which it is hidden, so will the leaven of evil-surmising and malice pervert the entire being—thoughts, actions, and character—where it is received. With the good leaven, the word of God, true goodness, righteousness, and peace are introduced. This brings the entire affections into conformity to the mind and will of God.” The Home Missionary, July 1, 1897.

“I am filled with sorrow as I see finite men who claim to be the sons of God, filled with evil surmising, and ready to speak evil of their brethren in the truth, ready to weigh others in their own scales of human opinion, and place their estimate upon those of whom they really understand but little. The worst of it is that often those who ought to understand why such action is out of place, drink in the spirit of the accuser, go to the polluted fountain of suspicion and distrust, and turning from the course justice marks out, are guided by some one’s hearsay of another’s action or character. By this course God’s Holy Spirit is grieved, and the churches are weakened by the influence of distrust and suspicion; for they are led to speak evil of those who stand far better in the sight of God than do their accusers. Are we to take reports, hearsay, as if they were verity and truth? Are we not to rebuke the talebearer who would make a condemned brother’s course appear as bad as possible? The true brethren of Christ are those who guard the interests of their brethren and sisters. How inappropriate it is to condemn others, when every soul is to be saved, not on his own merits, but by the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour! We are all erring, finite creatures, accountable to God for our words, works, and influence.” Review and Herald, October 24, 1893.

“There are those who cherish a spirit of envy and hatred against their brethren, calling it the Spirit of God. There are those who go up and down as talebearers, accusing and condemning, blackening character, inspiring hearts with maliciousness. They carry false reports to the doors of their neighbors, who, as they listen to the slander, lose the Spirit of God. Not even the messenger of God, who bears to the people His truth, is spared.” Upward Look, 122.


Can God use those who are evil-surmising about others?


“I feel so saddened, so discouraged, by the thought that my brethren are willing to listen to and circulate hearsay. I know that the Spirit of God will not cooperate with those who, by their criticisms, their evil-surmising, and their hard-heartedness are helping Satan.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 198.

“To those who are inclined to suspect others of wrongdoing and to charge their brethren with evil, I would say, ‘Please read in the book Great Controversy the chapter entitled “The Origin of Evil.” ’ Bring home its truths to your individual hearts. Remember that it was the spirit of envy and evil surmising, cherished in the heart of the rebel angel, that began the evil work that opened the floodgates of woe upon our world.” The Upward Look, 114.


What result does evil-surmising and criticism have on our ourselves?


“Closely connected with Christ’s warning in regard to the sin against the Holy Spirit is a warning against idle and evil words. The words are an indication of that which is in the heart. ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ But the words are more than an indication of character; they have power to react on the character. Men are influenced by their own words. Often under a momentary impulse, prompted by Satan, they give utterance to jealousy or evil surmising, expressing that which they do not really believe; but the expression reacts on the thoughts. They are deceived by their words, and come to believe that true which was spoken at Satan’s instigation. Having once expressed an opinion or decision, they are often too proud to retract it, and try to prove themselves in the right, until they come

to believe that they are. It is dangerous to utter a word of doubt, dangerous to question and criticize divine light. The habit of careless and irreverent criticism reacts upon the character, in fostering irreverence and unbelief. Many a man indulging this habit has gone on unconscious of danger, until he was ready to criticize and reject the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, ‘Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.’ ” The Desire of Ages, 323.


What is the atmosphere of our homes to be like?


“In the family the spirit of criticizing and faultfinding should have no place. The peace of the home is too sacred to be marred by this spirit. But how often, when seated at the meal table, the members of the family pass around a dish of criticism, faultfinding, and scandal.

“Should Christ come today, would He not find many of the families who profess to be Christians cherishing the spirit of criticism and unkindness? The members of such families are unready to unite with the family above. I am instructed to say to them, ‘Prepare to meet thy God.’ Discord in families leads to discord in the church.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 410.


Are we to listen to gossip and evil-speaking?


“When you are tempted to speak unadvisedly, be on guard. If some one else approaches you with words of criticism regarding one of God’s children, turn a deaf ear to every such word. If you are spoken to harshly, never retaliate. Utter not a word. When under provocation, remember that ‘silence is eloquence.’ Silence is the greatest rebuke that you can possibly give to a faultfinder or one whose temper is irritated.” Our High Calling, 293.

“Evil-speaking is a twofold curse, falling more heavily upon the speaker than upon the hearer. He who scatters the seeds of dissension and strife reaps in his own soul the deadly fruits. How miserable is the talebearer, the surmiser of evil! He is a stranger to true happiness. Testimonies, vol. 5, 176.


What should we do if we are guilty of evil speaking?


“My brethren, if you stand before God as true Christians, you will do in the year before us a work different from that which has been done in years past. Your wicked criticism is a sin in the sight of God. By it you are weakening the hands of God’s servants. This criticism is as a root of bitterness, whereby many are defiled. Let us come to the Lord in penitence, and ask Him to forgive us for not keeping His law, for not obeying the command to love one another as Christ has loved us. He says to us, ‘You have left your first love, and, unless you repent, I will remove your candlestick out of his place.’ ‘Be watchful,’ He pleads, ‘and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God.’ ” The General Conference Bulletin, April 1, 1903.


What discipline did Mrs. White endorse for an evil-surmiser?


“Then I saw a faint hope for C. S. I saw that the course that had been taken toward her by disfellowshiping her had been right, for her jealous evil-surmising and self breaking out every little while were enough to drag down and oppress a whole meeting. Yet I saw she loved the truth and cause better than anything else, although she had often wounded it and caused it to be reproached. I saw she must make thorough work speedily, and confess humbly her errors and wrongs, to the children of God, and then she could be healed. I saw that the church in Fairhaven should not fellowship her unless she makes an entire reformation.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 300.




Are we in danger of reaching the opposite extreme?

“While the servants of God are in constant danger of indulging a zeal that is wholly human, and while great harm is done by those who seem to be in their element in censuring, reproving, and condemning their brethren, there is fully as great danger of going to the opposite extreme, and making the sum and substance of Christian duty consist in love. The apostle Paul writes to his son Timothy, ‘Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.’ This work is just as essential to the prosperity of the church as is the exercise of gentleness, forbearance and love. Those who are consecrated to God will be as faithful to reprove and rebuke sin with all long-suffering and doctrine, as to comfort and encourage the desponding, and strengthen the weak. All who love God will show their abhorrence of sin.” The Signs of the Times, May 5, 1881.

“The history of Achan teaches the solemn lesson that for one man’s sin the displeasure of God will rest upon a people or a nation till the transgression is searched out and punished. Sin is corrupting in its nature. One man infected with its deadly leprosy may communicate the taint to thousands. Those who occupy responsible positions as guardians of the people are false to their trust if they do not faithfully search out and reprove sin. Many dare not condemn iniquity, lest they shall thereby sacrifice position or popularity. And by some it is considered uncharitable to rebuke sin. The servant of God should never allow his own spirit to be mingled with the reproof which he is required to give; but he is under the most solemn obligation to present the Word of God, without fear or favor. He must call sin by its right name. 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.” S.D.A. Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 996.


What was the sin of Achan?


“There was a time when Israel could not prevail against their enemies. This was because of Achan’s sin. God declared, ‘Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed thing from among you.’ God is the same today. If defiling sins are cherished by those who claim to believe the truth, the displeasure of God rests upon the church, and He will not remove it until the members do all in their power to show their hatred for sin, and their determination to cast it out of the church. God is displeased with those who call evil good and good evil. If jealousy, evil surmising, and evil-speaking are allowed to have a place in the church, that church is under the frown of God. It will be spiritually unhealthy until it is cleansed from these sins, for till then God cannot reveal His power to strengthen and elevate His people and give them victory. God is not pleased with the slothful work done in the churches. He expects His stewards to be true and faithful in giving reproof and correction. They are to expel wrong after the rule God has given in His Word, not according to their own ideas and impulses. No harsh means must be used, no unfair, hasty, impulsive work done. The efforts made to cleanse the church from moral uncleanness must be made in God’s way. There must be no partiality, no hypocrisy. There must be no favorites, whose sins are regarded as less sinful than those of others. Oh, how much we all need the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Then we shall always work with the mind of Christ, with kindness, compassion, and sympathy, showing love for the sinner while hating sin with a perfect hatred.” 1888 Materials, 144.


How does God regard sin among us?


“I have been shown that God here illustrates how He regards sin among those who profess to be His commandment-keeping people. Those whom He has specially honored with witnessing the remarkable exhibitions of His power, as did ancient Israel, and who will even then venture to disregard His express directions, will be subjects of His wrath. He would teach His people that disobedience and sin are exceedingly offensive to Him and are not to be lightly regarded. He shows us that when His people are found in sin they should at once take decided measures to put that sin from them, that His frown may not rest upon them all. But if the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins. In His dealings with His people in the past the Lord shows the necessity of purifying the church from wrongs. One sinner may diffuse darkness that will exclude the light of God from the entire congregation. When the people realize that darkness is settling upon them, and they do not know the cause, they should seek God earnestly, in great humility and self-abasement, until the wrongs which grieve His Spirit are searched out and put away. Testimonies, vol. 3, 265.


How does God look upon His servants if they do not reprove sin?


“The prejudice which has arisen against us because we have reproved the wrongs that God has shown me existed, and the cry that has been raised of harshness and severity, are unjust. God bids us speak, and we will not be silent. 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. In vision I have been pointed to many instances where the displeasure of God has been incurred by a neglect on the part of His servants to deal with the wrongs and sins existing among them. Those who have excused these wrongs have been thought by the people to be very amiable and lovely in disposition, simply because they shunned to discharge a plain Scriptural duty. The task was not agreeable to their feelings; therefore they avoided it” Testimonies, vol. 3, 265, 266.


How will God’s true people deal with sin?


“The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin in its real, sinful character. They will always be on the side of faithful and plain dealing with sins which easily beset the people of God. Especially in the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the one hundred and forty-four thousand who are to stand without fault before the throne of God, will they feel most deeply the wrongs of God’s professed people. This is forcibly set forth by the prophet’s illustration of the last work under the figure of the men each having a slaughter weapon in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side. ‘And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.’

“Who are standing in the counsel of God at this time? Is it those who virtually excuse wrongs among the professed people of God and who murmur in their hearts, if not openly, against those who would reprove sin? Is it those who take their stand against them and sympathize with those who commit wrong? No, indeed! Unless they repent, and leave the work of Satan in oppressing those who have the burden of the work and in holding up the hands of sinners in Zion, they will never receive the mark of God’s sealing approval.

“But the general slaughter of all those who do not thus see the wide contrast between sin and righteousness, and do not feel as those do who stand in the counsel of God and receive the mark, is described in the order to the five men with slaughter weapons: ‘Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.’

“In the case of Achan’s sin God said to Joshua: ‘Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.’ How does this instance compare with the course pursued by those who will not raise their voice against sin and wrong, but whose sympathies are ever found with those who trouble the camp of Israel with their sins? Said God to Joshua: ‘Thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.’ He pronounced the punishment which would follow the transgression of His covenant.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 266, 267.

“If our lives are filled with holy fragrance, if we honor God by having good thoughts toward others, and doing good deeds to bless others, it matters not whether we live in a cottage or a palace. Circumstances have but little to do with the experiences of the soul. It is the spirit cherished which gives coloring to all our actions. A man at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable. Envy will not be in his heart; evil surmising will find no room there; hatred cannot exist. The heart in harmony with God is lifted above the annoyances and trials of this life. But a heart where the peace of Christ is not, is unhappy, full of discontent; the person sees defects in everything, and he would bring discord into the most heavenly music. A life of selfishness is a life of evil. Those whose hearts are filled with love of self will store away evil thoughts of their brethren and will talk against God’s instrumentalities. Passions kept warm and fierce by Satan’s promptings are a bitter fountain, ever sending forth bitter streams to poison the life of others.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 488.


The Perfect Man

Would you like to know what it takes to be a perfect man? The Bible gives the answer in James 3:2–13. Verse 2 says, “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” The Living Bible says that “if anyone can control his tongue, it proves that he has perfect control over himself in every other way.”

Jesus tells us in Matthew 15:10, 11, “Hear and understand: not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” This is speaking about eating with unwashed hands—part of the ceremonial law, the tradition of the elders (see Matthew 15:1, 2). Jesus goes on to tell us what the reason is: “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Matthew 15:18, 19.

This is what Zephaniah has to say about this in Zephaniah 3:13: “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth.” Why not? Because their hearts are pure, their minds are unpolluted, their thoughts are untainted by sin.

An Indication of What is in the Heart

We read in Revelation 14:5, speaking about the 144,000, “And in their mouth was found no guile (deceit): for they are without fault before the throne of God.” What does that mean? It means what it says! What does guile include? “Guile includes impurity in all its forms. An impure thought tolerated, an unholy desire cherished, and the soul is contaminated, its integrity compromised.” Signs of the Times, February 8, 1883. Why is there no guile found in their mouth? Because there is no guile in their thoughts, they have no unholy desires, there is no guile in their hearts—their hearts are pure, undefiled, and holy.

The Bible says “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34), our words are only an index of what is in our heart. “He (Jesus) did not sin, neither was guile found in His mouth because there was no guile in His heart. The sentiments cherished in the soul will find their way to the lips. Again I say, Your only safety is looking constantly to Jesus.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, 78. From the conversation of a person or the words which come out of his mouth, we can tell what type of a person we are dealing with and what kind of a character that individual has. “Our words are an indication of what is in the heart.” Signs of the Times, May 2, 1894.

“Why are the young generally so backward to talk of a Savior’s love? They can readily talk of dress, and appearance, and of things that are of but little consequence. ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ Those who profess to love God, should delight to talk of Him they love. And if His love is in the heart, the mouth will speak it out. His praise will be in your hearts and on your lips. Your song will be ‘Hear, what the Lord has done for me.’ Your hearts can beat with ardent affection and love for Jesus, who first loved you.” The Youth’s Instructor, February 1, 1856.

We can add to dress and appearance—cars, boats, airplanes, houses, other people, business, sports, investments, etc. Are people guilty of dwelling more upon these themes than on Christ’s love today? How about the words we speak on the Sabbath?

Jesus says to us in Matthew 12:36, 37: “But I say unto you, That every idle (useless, worthless) word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

“The Lord is greatly dishonored when cheap, frivolous words fall from the lips of those whose names are registered on the church books.” Review and Herald, December 31, 1901.

“When in the final judgment we stand before the tribunal of God, it is our words that will justify or condemn us. Much more than we realize is involved in the matter of speech . . . . Let your lips be touched with a live coal from the divine altar. Utter only words of truth. Watch and pray, that your words and deeds may ever confess Christ.” The Voice in Speech and Song, 21.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29. What is corrupt communication according to the dictionary? “Morally bad, rotten, wicked.”

Let’s see what the Spirit of Prophecy says about that. “The word ‘corrupt’ means here any word that would make an impression detrimental to holy principles and undefiled religion, any communication that would eclipse the view of Christ, and blot from the mind true sympathy and love. It includes impure hints, which, unless instantly resisted, lead to great sin. Upon everyone is laid the duty of barring the way against corrupt communication.” In Heavenly Places, 175.

“Not one word is to be spoken unadvisedly (without careful consideration).” Christ’s Object Lessons, 337. How many words? “Not one.” “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matthew 12:36.

So why are men doing it anyhow and letting all these useless words proceed out of their mouths? Men do not realize or do not want to realize that they are accountable for their words and that they are even being recorded. “Could the veil which separates the visible from the invisible world be swept back, and the children of men behold an angel recording every word and deed, which they must meet again in the judgment, how many words that are daily uttered would remain unspoken.” Great Controversy, 487.

Before we speak we need to put our brain in gear! We need to think before we speak! Isn’t that correct? Is that easy? Why do people speak before they think? Because they are not in control! Who is in control?

Gossip and Evil Speaking

Let’s look at several types of speech that God despises. First of all evil speaking . How serious is evil speaking ? “Evil-thinking and evil- speaking are a great offense in the sight of God, and those who do these things are not born of the Spirit, but of the flesh.” The Home Missionary, December 1, 1894. “Evil- speaking is a two-fold curse, falling more heavily upon the speaker than upon the hearer. He who scatters the seeds of dissension and strife, reaps in his own soul the deadly fruits. How miserable is the tale-bearer, the surmiser of evil! He is a stranger to true happiness.” Signs of the Times, February 8, 1883. “No evil speaking  . . . will escape the lips of Him who is following Christ.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 337.

Who is the promoter of evil- speaking ? “Evil- speaking ” is “of Satan.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 42. “An earnest effort should be made in every church to put away evilspeaking . . . as among the sins productive of the greatest evils in the church.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 609.

We must help each other in this area, not to encourage this evil listening! “Let your conversation be of such a nature that you will have no need to repent of it . . . If a word is dropped that is detrimental to the character of a friend or brother, never encourage this evil speaking ; for it is the work of the enemy. Remind the speaker that God’s Word forbids this kind of conversation.” Our High Calling, 181.

Gossip is a serious problem within the professed people of God! Gossip is sin and “should not be tolerated among the followers of God.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 241, 242.

It is also a sin to listen to gossip. “The ears must not be defiled by listening to any gossip that faultfinding ones would have us hear, for I not only cause them to sin in allowing them to talk of others’ faults, but I sin myself in listening to them.” Upward Look, 237.

Do you know who usually is a target of evil- speaking , slander and character assassination in the so-called Christian community? Who is it that is being blamed for all the problems? The one that preaches the truth from God’s Word, the one that reproves sin, the one that calls for repentance, the one that calls sin by it’s right name.

Here are several other types of speech that displease God.

“No fretful repining . . . will escape the lips of him who is following Christ.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 337. What is fretful repining? It is unhappiness, discontentment, worrying and complaining.

“No impure suggestions . . . will escape the lips of him who is following Christ.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 337.

What should be done with impure suggestions? “An impure suggestion must be dismissed at once, and pure, elevating thoughts, holy contemplation, be entertained, thus obtaining more and more knowledge of God by training the mind in the contemplation of heavenly things.” Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, 236.

Jesting and Joking

Should we be able to depend on what a Christian says when he makes a statement? Or should we weigh his words? Does he mean what he says or does he say what he means? Jesus says in Matthew 5:37: “But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” “All you need to say is ‘Yes’ if you mean yes. ‘No’ if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one” (Jerusalem Bible). Isn’t this good advice?

What about the phrase, “I am just kidding” or “I am joking?”

“There is among you too much love of jesting and joking, which is not convenient, and which in no way strengthens the soul or the intellect. Jesting and joking may please a class of cheap minds, but the influence of this kind of conduct is destructive to spirituality . . . Guard your words. Let sobriety and sound common sense characterize your conversation. Do not trifle with the purity and nobility of your souls by condescending to indulgence in stale jokes, and in cultivating habits of trifling conversation. The requirement of God is explicit on these points.” The Youth’s Instructor, May 30, 1895. “To him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” Psalms 50:23.

What should we do when we have inherited a loose tongue? “The tongue needs to be educated and disciplined and trained to speak of the glories of heaven, to talk of the matchless love of Jesus Christ.” Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1146.

What should we do when we are in the company of someone who is talking nonsense? “When in the company of those who indulge in foolish talk, it is our duty to change the subject of conversation if possible. By the help of the grace of God we should quietly drop words or introduce a subject that will turn the conversation into a profitable channel.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 337. “When in society, when compelled to be among the frivolous, the careless and inconsiderate, you are not to descend to their level and engage in cheap and frivolous talk, but dart up your petitions to heaven that the God of all grace will keep your souls in the love of Christ.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, 73.

The Ministers

What about ministers who preach from the pulpit? Are there guidelines for them in this respect?

“When a minister bearing the solemn message of warning to the world, receives the hospitable courtesies of friends and brethren, and neglects the duties of a shepherd of the flock, and is careless in his example and deportment, engaging with the young in trifling conversation, in jesting and joking, and in relating humorous anecdotes to create laughter, he is unworthy of being a gospel minister, and needs to be converted before he is entrusted with the care of the sheep and lambs.” Gospel Workers, 131, 132.

What is a trifling conversation? It is conversation that has little or no value; it is unimportant, insignificant, shallow or foolish.

“The minister who mixes story-telling with his discourses is using strange fire. God is offended, and the cause of truth is dishonored, when his representatives descend to the use of cheap, trifling words.” Review and Herald, December 22, 1904.

“What is the object of the ministry? Is it to mix the comical with the religious? The theater is the place for such exhibitions. If Christ is formed within, if the truth with its sanctifying power is brought into the inner sanctuary of the soul, you will not have jolly men, neither will you have sour, cross, crabbed men to teach the precious lessons of Christ to perishing souls.” Evangelism, 644.

Unsympathetic Speech

“While we lay aside all vanity, all foolish talking, jesting, and joking, we are not to become cold, unsympathetic, and unsocial. The Spirit of the Lord is to rest upon you until you shall be like a fragrant flower from the garden of God. You are to keep talking of the light, of Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, until you shall change from glory to glory, from character to character, going on from strength to strength, and reflecting more and more of the precious image of Jesus.” My Life Today, 196.

There are two extremes: vanity, foolish talking, jesting and joking on one side and being cold, unsympathetic and unsociable on the other. We need the grace of God to know the difference! How can we only speak words that please Jesus? “Let us guard against speaking words that discourage. Let us resolve never to engage in evil-speaking and backbiting. Let us refuse to serve Satan by implanting seeds of doubt. Let us guard against cherishing unbelief, or expressing it to others. Many, many times I have wished that there might be circulated a pledge containing a solemn promise to speak only those words that are pleasing to God . . . Let us begin to discipline the tongue, remembering always that we can do this only by disciplining the mind; for ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ ” Review and Herald, May 26, 1904.


What will the conversations of converted people be like? They will not be: frivolous, empty, light, trifling, low, vulgar, foolish, vain, abusive, bitter, impatient, hasty, angry, severe, dictatorial, untruthful, deceitful, impure, boastful, etc. There will be no evil- speaking , gossip, or talebearing, jesting or joking. A true Christian’s conversation will be: uplifting, dwelling on Christ’s words and character, on the plan of redemption, on heavenly things, on God’s goodness and mercy, expressing meekness. Their words will be kind, loving, truthful, dependable, holy, spiritual, encouraging, chaste, upright, honest, unselfish; they will reveal their connection with Christ and show that religion is not merely a profession.

“If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man.” James 3:2.

“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling (if we are willing and submit to Him), and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 24, 25.

The End