The Destroying Effect of Evil Speaking and Gossip

Gossip—small talk, hearsay, rumor, scandal—is the major element used by Satan to destroy love and unity within the church.

“Gossipers and news carriers are a terrible curse to neighborhoods and churches. Two thirds of all the church trials arise from this source.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 465.

We read from God’s holy word the following, “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.” Numbers 12:1.

From the pen of inspiration we are given an insight into this whole experience. God’s servant records: “Moses felt the importance of the great work committed to him as no other man had ever felt it. He realized his own weakness, and he made God his counselor. Aaron esteemed himself more highly, and trusted less in God. He had failed when entrusted with responsibility, giving evidence of the weakness of his character by his base compliance in the matter of the idolatrous worship at Sinai. But Miriam and Aaron, blinded by jealousy and ambition, lost sight of this. Aaron had been highly honored by God in the appointment of his family to the sacred office of the priesthood; yet even this now added to the desire for self-exaltation. ‘And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath He not spoken also by us’ [Numbers 12:2]? Regarding themselves as equally favored by God, they felt that they were entitled to the same position and authority.

“Yielding to the spirit of dissatisfaction, Miriam found cause of complaint in events that God had especially overruled. The marriage of Moses had been displeasing to her. That he should choose a woman of another nation, instead of taking a wife from among the Hebrews, was an offense to her family and national pride. Zipporah was treated with ill-disguised contempt.

“Though called a ‘Cushite woman’ (Numbers 12:1, R.V.), the wife of Moses was a Midianite, and thus a descendant of Abraham. In personal appearance she differed from the Hebrews in being of a somewhat darker complexion. Though not an Israelite, Zipporah was a worshiper of the true God. She was of a timid, retiring disposition, gentle and affectionate, and greatly distressed at the sight of suffering; and it was for this reason that Moses, when on the way to Egypt, had consented to her return to Midian. He desired to spare her the pain of witnessing the judgments that were to fall on the Egyptians.

“When Zipporah rejoined her husband in the wilderness, she saw that his burdens were wearing away his strength, and she made known her fears to Jethro, who suggested measures for his relief. Here was the chief reason for Miriam’s antipathy to Zipporah. Smarting under the supposed neglect shown to herself and Aaron, she regarded the wife of Moses as the cause, concluding that her influence had prevented him from taking them into his counsels as formerly. Had Aaron stood up firmly for the right, he might have checked the evil; but instead of showing Miriam the sinfulness of her conduct, he sympathized with her, listened to her words of complaint, and thus came to share her jealousy.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 383, 384.

Evidence before us is the fact that Miriam’s jealousy produced evil speaking and gossip, but how did she and Aaron come to be affected by jealousy?

  1. In the appointment of the seventy elders, Miriam and Aaron had not been consulted, and their jealousy was excited against Moses.
  2. At the time of Jethro’s visit, while the Israelites were on their way to Sinai, the ready acceptance by Moses of the counsel of his father-in-law had aroused in Aaron and Miriam a fear that his influence with the great leader exceeded theirs.
  3. In the organization of the council of elders, they felt that their position and authority had been ignored.
  4. Because they had been chosen to aid Moses, they regarded themselves as sharing equally with him the burden of leadership, and they regarded the appointment of further assistance as uncalled for.

This seeming disregard of their authority by Moses fanned into operation the flames of jealousy or envy which ultimately gave rise to evil speaking and gossip, and this spirit of evil speaking and gossip that was now alive and active, due to irresponsible attitudes of Miriam and Aaron, would have soon leavened the whole camp of Israel. Ever keep in mind the fact that jealousy is an attribute of Satan, which means that gossip is of Satan and therefore will only produce a harvest of cruel deeds. We are counseled:

“Envy is one of the most satanic traits that can exist in the human heart, and it is one of the most baleful in its effects. Says the wise man, ‘Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?’ Proverbs 27:4. … ‘Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.’ James 3:16.

“It should not be regarded as a light thing to speak evil of others or to make ourselves judges of their motives or actions. ‘He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.’ James 4:11. There is but one judge—He ‘who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.’ 1 Corinthians 4:5. And whoever takes it upon himself to judge and condemn his fellow men is usurping the prerogative of the Creator.” Ibid., 385.

As a name, Miriam belongs to a family of words having different root-form; all of which suggest bitterness, Mary, Maria. Miriam, then, the same as Mary, means bitterness or rebellion. This she lived out in the prime of her days!

Let’s examine closer Miriam’s life in relation to this incident. Miriam was the eldest child of Amram and Jochebed, and the sister of Aaron and Moses. Miriam owed much to her ancestry. She was the daughter of godly parents and the sister of two of Israel’s greatest figures. We have no biblical evidence that Miriam was ever married. Her interests were not matrimonial; they were national. Her mission was not domestic; it was patriotic. Miriam is wellknown as a prophetess, and she was highly respected in Israel. The Bible, we can all agree, is an honest book that gives only the truth. It tells the naked truth of those it describes. Blemishes, as well as beauties, are revealed in spite of the person! Miriam, for instance, rebelled against the mission of her life, namely to protect and labor in association with God’s leader whom she had been the means of saving for his country.

Miriam was, above all things, a faithful patriot, with a love for her country greater than the love for her renowned brother. Jealousy led Miriam to reject both the position of Moses as the leader of Israel and his partner in the wife he took unto himself. She found the management and marriage of Moses most distressing, most annoying! Miriam as a church member and more so as a leader became careless and irresponsible because of envy, which led her to turn against her own brother. Isn’t this the same attitude that many of us who profess to be Christians display towards each other who are namely our brothers and sisters?

It was not so much feminine jealousy on Miriam’s part as patriotic jealousy, which gave rise to her gossiping spirit. She was a confirmed member of the Hebrew race and set against any foreign alliance. How often do we, as confirmed Seventh-day Adventists, become troubled concerning those who have come in and joined us who were of a different faith or of another Adventist church? How often are we affected because of their rise to authority within the precincts of the church? We share our burdens with each other about the intruders positioning themselves in our church to take away our positions and belittle our authority.

But Miriam’s greatest offense was her sarcastic rejection of the leadership of her brother, Moses. Hitherto she had been a symbol of unity, cooperation, and support as she shared in the triumphs and hopes of Israel. Now, unfortunately, she is prominent as a leader of discord, division and discontent. “It was envy,” Ellen White wrote, “that first caused discord in heaven, and its indulgence has wrought untold evil among men.” Ibid. So Miriam was now doing the service of Satan. Was this her original desire and intention? Did she desire to bring division, discord and strife between herself and her younger brother?

From the book The Desire of Ages, 323 is found sobering counsel: “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.’ [Matthew 12:34]. 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.”

You will notice that Aaron is paired with Miriam in this ungodly ordeal. We know from the record that Miriam was the instigator and spokes-woman in the revolt. The Holy Scripture says, “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses.” Numbers 12:1.

Why is it that Miriam did not seek out Moses and express to him her concern? Why did she seek out Aaron, in whom she found a listening ear? Well, it is no doubt because she and Aaron shared a closer relationship, because when Moses was away growing up in the palace and the wilderness, Aaron was there with her. Miriam knew well her brother’s weak and strong points of character, one who would quickly sympathize and agree even if it was wrong, and who would understand, one who would not be quick to oppose, condemn and rebuke.

Miriam understood Aaron and Aaron understood Miriam! For the little she knew of Moses, he was too exact, unbending and regimental as well as overly religious. Aaron was far easier to talk with! It is on this basis, against this background, that we have this cooperative effort.

Personal jealousy and fear of their own respective leadership are mingled in their question, “Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?” Numbers 12:2. What we see here is that Miriam and Aaron aspired to a joint partnership in state power and in the government of Israel, but they failed! Miriam’s chief error consisted in her effort to break down the God-given authority of Moses and thereby imperil the unity and hope of the nation. This would most effectively be accomplished through the same method that Lucifer used in heaven, namely gossip, evil surmising and evil speaking.

No doubt, this will be the result in every church in which members cherish the Miriam and Aaron Syndrome. In every church where the spirit of gossip and evil speaking is encouraged; unity, love, trust and hope are destroyed. It has been said that one of the torments of jealousy is that it can never turn away its eyes from the thing that pains it.

Up to this time Moses was unaware of the evil work being done by the two closest persons to him in his leadership, but God knew, for the Holy Scripture declares, “The Lord heard it.” Numbers 12:2. God heard the evil conversation of Miriam and Aaron. He will always hear the gossipers in conversation, and He will certainly pay for the work done by such individuals!

“And the Lord spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.” Verses 4–10.

Many times gossipers seek to conceal themselves and their accomplice, but God in time will reveal such individuals the way He knows best and in most cases for their good and the benefit of His church. We are told in the book Patriarchs and Prophets that, “This manifestation of the Lord’s displeasure was designed to be a warning to all Israel, to check the growing spirit of discontent and insubordination. If Miriam’s envy and dissatisfaction had not been signally rebuked, it would have resulted in great evil.” Ibid., 385.

Notice that the very one whom Miriam was gossiping about was the same one who had to pray for her in order that she be spared. This spirit that Moses possessed should be the same spirit all share who are victims of gossip and evil speaking.

The significance of God’s attitude concerning the discipline of Miriam is worth noting. In spite of His forgiving mercies, she never escaped a lesser discipline; she, being a temporary leper, was shut out of the camp for seven days. Due to Miriam’s ungodly behavior the church was brought to a halt for one week at least! It’s no different today, for the progress of the church will be greatly affected by gossipers and evil-surmisers. Indeed, “Gossipers and news carriers are a terrible curse to neighborhoods and churches. Two thirds of all the church trials arise from this source.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 465.

Is it possible that the confidence Moses placed in Aaron and Miriam had been shaken as to make him walk alone from that point onward? Well, Miriam accepted her discipline, repented of her sins, and remained faithful until death.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying, Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah. Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor: And strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there.” Numbers 20:23–26.

“Aaron’s work for Israel was done. Forty years before, at the age of eighty-three, God had called him to unite with Moses in his great and important mission. He had co-operated with his brother in leading the children of Israel from Egypt. He had held up the great leader’s hands when the Hebrew hosts gave battle to Amalek. He had been permitted to ascend Mount Sinai, to approach into the presence of God, and to behold the divine glory. The Lord had conferred upon the family of Aaron the office of the priesthood, and had honored him with the sacred consecration of high priest. He had sustained him in the holy office by the terrible manifestations of divine judgment in the destruction of Korah and his company. It was through Aaron’s intercession that the plague was stayed. When his two sons were slain for disregarding God’s express command, he did not rebel or even murmur. Yet the record of his noble life had been marred. Aaron committed a grievous sin when he yielded to the clamors of the people and made the golden calf at Sinai; and again, when he united with Miriam in envy and murmuring against Moses. And he, with Moses, offended the Lord at Kadesh by disobeying the command to speak to the rock that it might give forth its water. …

“For his sin at Kadesh, Aaron was denied the privilege of officiating as God’s high priest in Canaan—of offering the first sacrifice in the goodly land, and thus consecrating the inheritance of Israel.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 425, 426.

If there was hope for the gossipers Miriam and Aaron, then there is certainly hope for every gossiper today! Jesus stands today and says to each one, “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you.” Jeremiah 3:13, 14.

I firmly believe that Aaron and Miriam will be in heaven, simply because they repented and submitted themselves to God’s discipline. Why not follow in the footsteps of Aaron and Miriam? Amen!!!

Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-882-3900.

Peace While War Rages

“Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

Psalm 119:165

“The quest for inner calm and peace has been a universal struggle for mankind throughout the ages. Even for those who profess to be followers of the ‘Prince of Peace’ [Isaiah 9:6], it is difficult to realize with consistency that ‘God’s ways are always higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts’ [Isaiah 55:9]. It becomes normal living much of the time to experience undue anxiety about our plans without ever consulting Him for His perfect will. If only we could learn this simple lesson: ‘Tis far, far better to let Him choose the way that we should take, if only we thus leave our life with Him, He will guide without mistake.’ ” 101 More Hymn Stories, by Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, 261, 2.

Affecting the cross-section of humanity is the tension, unhappiness and storm that is constantly raging within the human soul. Even within the Christian world, the majority of those who profess to be followers of Christ are expressing ongoing unrest in the private recesses of their mind—they have no peace of mind!

It is noted that, “Those in the business world live with tension daily. One businessman was so overwhelmed with the tension, frustration, and turmoil that he sought advice from his pastor. As they talked, the man chain-smoked, fidgeted, and kept rubbing his chin nervously. Even the pastor’s advice to ‘slow-down’ brought the man more tension. ‘I know I need to unwind, but I just can’t right now,’ he said. ‘With all of the economic problems in my line of business, I’m under so much pressure to succeed that I honestly don’t know how to slow down and end this rat race.’ His frustration is typical of that faced by many other professionals in the business community. This man is the norm, not the exception.

“Those who work in the home don’t escape tension and frustration, either. A housewife recently went to her doctor, with complaints of feeling run down. After a thorough examination, the doctor told her, ‘Lady, you’re not run down. You’re too wound up.’

“Even children are affected by tension. A little girl once told her mother that she was nervous. ‘Honey, what do you mean?’ the mother asked. ‘I really don’t know, but I just feel in a hurry all over,’ the little girl replied. It seems that no particular age group or profession is exempt from the high pressures of today’s society.” Conquering the Kill-Joys, by Bill Weber, Word Books, (1986), 57.

Those who allow tension to be an ever-represent emotion in everyday life are inviting a powerful, destructive force to reign within them. Is the stress in your life temporary, or is it slowly destroying your life? Try the following test, answering each question as honestly as you can. Your answer could determine whether or not you are overly tense.

  1. Do minor problems throw you into a dither?
  2. Do you find it difficult to get along with people, develop friendships, or begin conversations with others?
  3. Do the small pleasures of life fail to satisfy you?
  4. Do you find it difficult or impossible to stop thinking about your personal anxieties?
  5. Do you fear new people and situations?
  6. Are you suspicious of other people or mistrust your friends?
  7. Have you picked up any bad, dangerous, or destructive habits that you have been unable to shake?

If you answered yes to most of the questions, you are probably finding it difficult to deal with a tension-ridden society. As stress and tension become a way of life, you will find that other people will not want to be around you because you have become uptight and nervous. You are no longer enjoyable to be around, and you will find that others will quickly cut off conversations with you or try to avoid you.

Tension not only can affect your relationship with others, but it can also affect you personally and physically. Dr. Herbert Vincent of the Harvard Medical School tells what effects stress has on our bodies: “… there is an increase within the body of a hormone called adrenaline. This, in turn, increases the blood pressure—that is, the amount of blood flowing to the muscles—and the rate of the heartbeat, causes excessive sweating, headaches and an upset stomach. This can create a ‘fight or flight’ response with the body. So, if you want to suffer the side results—possibly heart attack, premature death, stomach disorders, high blood pressure, nervous difficulties—you continue down the road of uptightness and tenseness.” Ibid., 58, 59.

I believe that it was in contemplation of such truths that these words were penned by God’s servant: “Many of the diseases from which men suffer are the result of mental depression. Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt, distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death.” The Ministry of Healing, 241.

In his epistle to the Galatians, the noted apostle to the Gentiles points out that the fruit of the Spirit is love! This is the fruit that grows on the Christian tree or is manifest in the Christian life when the Holy Spirit controls the believer. Joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance are the graces of the Holy Spirit that are products of the fruit of love. I would like to examine the element of the graces of the Holy Spirit, which is peace.

The Greek word eirene (#1515 in Strong’s Concordance) is translated peace in our English language and gives the following descriptions:

  1. Harmonious relationships between man – Matthew 10:34; Romans 14:19
  2. Between nations – Luke 14:32; Acts 12:20; Revelation 6:4
  3. Friendliness – Acts 15:33; I Corinthians 16:11; Hebrews 11:31
  4. Freedom from molestation – Luke 11:21; 19:42; Acts 9:3
  5. Order, in the State – Acts 24:2
  6. Order, in the Church – I Corinthians 14:33
  7. The harmonized relationship between God and man, accomplished through the gospel – Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:17
  8. The sense of rest and contentment consequent thereon – Matthew 10:13; Mark 5:34; Luke 1:79; 2:29; John 14:27

The Hebrew word salom or shalom (#7965 in Strong’s Concordance) gives us our English word peace. This word shalom primarily signifies “wholeness,” Joshua 8:31 “unhewn”; Ruth 2:12 “full”; Nehemiah 6:15 “finished”; Isaiah 42:19 “made perfect.” In the Septuagint shalom is often rendered by sotcria, meaning salvation, e.g., Genesis 26:31; 41:16, hence the “peace-offering” is called the “salvation offering.”

The words of our Lord and Saviour: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. You will notice in this verse that there are two kinds of peace open to our understanding, namely “My peace” and “wordly peace” or peace that the world giveth.

Here Jesus speaks of inward peace such as comes to him who is “justified by faith,” whose sense of guilt has been laid at the foot of the cross, and whose anxieties about the future have been swallowed up in his implicit trust in God. Such a peace Jesus terms “My peace.” Such a peace, with all its boast, science cannot bestow.

So we read the words of the apostle Paul to get a good understanding of what this peace involves. Romans 5:1 states, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“As the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christ’s atonement in his behalf, and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith. Every believing soul is to conform his will entirely to God’s will, and keep in a state of repentance and contrition, exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer and advancing from strength to strength, from glory to glory.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1070.

“The grace of Christ is freely to justify the sinner without merit or claim on his part. Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment he is pardoned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him, and he is no more to doubt God’s forgiving grace.” Ibid., 1071.

Paul speaks further in Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

“The promises are, ‘A new heart will I give you’; ‘I will put my Spirit within you’ [Ezekiel 11:19]. This provision is made for us through the merit of Christ’s righteousness: ‘And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.’ Isaiah 32:17. Those who experience the change spoken of in these words will find that their restlessness and disquietude are all taken away, and they will find rest unto their souls in Christ. His merit, His righteousness, are imputed to the believing soul, and the believer has inward peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The Faith I Live By, 121.

In the book Medical Ministry, 53, the question is asked, “What can make a heart so light, what can spread so much sunshine through the soul, as the sense of sins forgiven? The peace of Christ is life and health.”

Therefore, knowing that you are forgiven of your sins, knowing that you are justified and accepting by faith the pardon and justification—which of course is one and the self same thing—brings peace to the troubled mind. The converse is true; we are not experiencing the peace that passeth understanding because we do not possess the righteousness of Christ.

Some Effects Peace Produces in the Heart

“Nothing is more needed in our work than the practical results of communion with God. We should show by our daily lives that we have peace and rest in the Saviour. His peace in the heart will shine forth in the countenance. It will give to the voice a persuasive power. Communion with God will ennoble the character and the life. Men will take knowledge of us, as of the first disciples, that we have been with Jesus. This will impart to the worker a power that nothing else can give. Of this power he must not allow himself to be deprived.

“We must live a twofold life—a life of thought and action, of silent prayer and earnest work. The strength received through communion with God, united with earnest effort in training the mind to thoughtfulness and caretaking, prepares one for daily duties and keeps the spirit in peace under all circumstances, however trying.” The Ministry of Healing, 512.

Now, remember what the apostle Paul wrote: “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace … .” We see an association with this in the following statement: “The same divine mind that is working upon the things of nature is speaking to the hearts of men and creating an inexpressible craving for something they have not. The things of the world cannot satisfy their longing. The Spirit of God is pleading with them to seek for those things that alone can give peace and rest—the grace of Christ, the joy of holiness.” Steps to Christ, 28.

Coupled with this statement is the following: “Those who really enjoy the love of God will have joy and peace. Religion was never designed to make one pleasureless. What can be productive of greater happiness than to enjoy the peace of Christ, the bright sunshine of His presence?” The Faith I Live By, 237.

These statements demonstrate that the grace or love of Christ and the joy of holiness are prerequisites to possessing the “My peace.”

Significantly, if a person has not submitted himself/herself to the Holy Spirit, then the Holy Spirit will not be able to do the work of regeneration whereby Christ can dwell in the life of that person, controlling, governing every impulse and motive and planting and causing to grow His love in the life of the believer. Consequently, there can be no joy in the Lord and if there be no joy, then there will certainly be no “My peace.”

Understandingly, therefore, the challenge that faces every professed Christian is to make a full surrender of himself/herself to the Holy Spirit; this is our first work!

“Our first and highest duty is to know that we are abiding in Christ. He must do the work. We are to seek to know ‘What saith the Lord,’ yielding our lives to His guidance. When we have the Spirit of an abiding Christ, everything will take on a changed aspect. The Saviour alone can give us the rest and peace we so much need. And, in every invitation He gives us to seek the Lord that He may be found of us, He is calling us to abide in Him. This is an invitation, not merely to come to Him, but to remain in Him. It is the Spirit of God that moves us to come. When we have this rest and peace, our daily worries will not lead us to be coarse and rough and uncourteous. We shall no longer follow our own way and will. We will want to do the will of God, abiding in Christ as the branches in the vine.” This Day With God, 140.

“When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven.” The Desire of Ages, 173. And in the same book is stated, “Wherever His Spirit reigns, there peace abides. And there will be joy also, for there is a calm, holy trust in God.” Ibid., 153.

So the Holy Spirit is the agent through whom we may obtain peace. This is made possible when Christ is presented to us as our sin pardoning Saviour and by accepting Christ and His righteousness we give the Holy Spirit permission to do the work of regeneration in us in order that Christ may dwell within, and thereby gives us His love, joy, and peace.

Jesus records the highest work of the Holy Spirit: “He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” John 16:14.

“Abiding peace, true rest of spirit, has but one Source. It was of this that Christ spoke when He said, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11:28. ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.’ John 14:27. This peace is not something that He gives apart from Himself. It is in Christ, and we can receive it only by receiving Him.” The Ministry of Healing, 247.

“When we believe in Christ as our personal Saviour, the peace of Christ is ours. The reconciliation provided for us in the atonement of Christ is the foundation of our peace.” Lift Him Up, 332.

What is the nature of the peace that Christ left for His people?

Is it something that is temporary? Is it the same thing that is only given to a select few or class in the church?

“Shortly before His crucifixion Christ had bequeathed to His disciples a legacy of peace. ‘Peace I leave with you,’ He said, ‘My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ John 14:27. This peace is not the peace that comes through conformity to the world. Christ never purchased peace by compromise with evil. The peace that Christ left His disciples is internal rather than external and was ever to remain with His witnesses through strife and contention.” The Acts of the Apostles, 84.

In Mark’s gospel, chapter 4:34–41, is recorded a most beautiful experience that is very beneficial to us Christians living on the brink of eternity. Jesus had a very busy day; things were going well until the multitude did not want to leave, thus the disciples had to send them away and then decided to go on the other side of the lake. Of course, while they were planning, Satan was also planning. The Scripture tells us that Jesus was so tired that He fell asleep while in the ship and then a storm arose that seriously threatened the lives of all on board. “And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” Verses 38–40.

“When Jesus was awakened to meet the storm, He was in perfect peace. There was no trace of fear in word or look, for no fear was in His heart. But He rested not in the possession of almighty power. It was not as the ‘Master of earth and sea and sky’ that He reposed in quiet. That power He had laid down, and He says, ‘I can of Mine own self do nothing.’ John 5:30. He trusted in the Father’s might. It was in faith—faith in God’s love and care—that Jesus rested, and the power of that word which stilled the storm was the power of God.

“As Jesus rested by faith in the Father’s care, so we are to rest in the care of our Saviour. If the disciples had trusted in Him, they would have been kept in peace. Their fear in the time of danger revealed their unbelief. In their efforts to save themselves, they forgot Jesus; and it was only when, in despair of self-dependence, they turned to Him that He could give them help.

“How often the disciples’ experience is ours! When the tempests of temptation gather, and the fierce lightnings flash, and the waves sweep over us, we battle with the storm alone, forgetting that there is One who can help us. We trust to our own strength till our hope is lost, and we are ready to perish. Then we remember Jesus, and if we call upon Him to save us, we shall not cry in vain. Though He sorrowfully reproves our unbelief and self-confidence, He never fails to give us the help we need. Whether on the land or on the sea, if we have the Saviour in our hearts, there is no need of fear. Living faith in the Redeemer will smooth the sea of life, and will deliver us from danger in the way that He knows to be best.

“There is another spiritual lesson in this miracle of the stilling of the tempest. Every man’s experience testifies to the truth of the words of Scripture, ‘The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest. … There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.’ Isaiah 57:20, 21. Sin has destroyed our peace. While self is unsubdued, we can find no rest. The masterful passions of the heart no human power can control. We are as helpless here as were the disciples to quiet the raging storm. But He who spoke peace to the billows of Galilee has spoken the word of peace for every soul. However fierce the tempest, those who turn to Jesus with the cry, ‘Lord, save us,’ will find deliverance. His grace, that reconciles the soul to God, quiets the strife of human passion, and in His love the heart is at rest.” The Desire of Ages, 336.

What are some things that destroy our peace?

  1. Love of self – “It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is all alive, we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification and insult; but when we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God, we shall not take neglects or slights to heart. We shall be deaf to reproach and blind to scorn and insult.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 16.
  2. Sinful unbelief – “Nothing mars the peace of the soul like sinful unbelief.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 213.
  3. Evilspeaking and talebearing – “Many ask the Lord to humble them, but are unwilling to submit to the needful discipline. When the test comes, when trials or even annoyances occur, the heart rebels, and the tongue utters words that are like poisoned arrows or blasting hail.

“Evilspeaking 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.” Ibid., vol. 5, 176.

  1. Discord, strife, censuring – “All is harmony, peace, and love in heaven. No discord, no strife, no censuring, no unloving words, no clouded brows, no jars there; and no one will be introduced there who possesses any of these elements so destructive to peace and happiness.” Ibid., vol. 1, 706.
  2. Criticism – “The peace of Christ cannot dwell in the mind and heart of a workman who criticizes and finds fault with another workman simply because the other does not practice the methods he thinks best, or because he feels that he is not appreciated. The Lord never blesses him who criticizes and accuses his brethren, for this is Satan’s work.” Evangelism, 102.

Finally brethren, “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. …

“Let each one who claims to follow Christ esteem himself less and others more. Press together, press together! In union there is strength and victory; in discord and division there is weakness and defeat. These words have been spoken to me from heaven. As God’s ambassador I speak them to you.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 488.

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1–3. Amen!

Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-882-3900.

The Seed of Criticism

What happens in a church that causes church members to become so dissatisfied that they reach the point where they want to fight one another and, in some cases, go to the court to put a restraining order on a person to prevent them from attending services? How do these things develop, and how can we avoid this type of behavior in our own church?

We know we are living in the time that will be as in the days of Noah and many people, who have had the hope of the soon coming of Jesus, are going to fall out by the way. It is only by being filled by the Holy Spirit and a strong connection with Jesus that any of us can stay on the narrow path and not turn our weapons against each other, but be united and get serious about taking the Three Angels’ Messages to all the world.

A study of the book of Hebrews reveals that, interspersed with all the theological content in the book, Paul gives five warnings:

  • Do not neglect salvation (Hebrews 2).
  • Be faithful (Hebrews 3).
  • The peril of not progressing in your Christian experience (Hebrews 6).
  • Do not cast away your confidence and lose eternal life (Hebrews 10).
  • Be sure that you listen to the heavenly voice (Hebrews 12).

As Paul gives these fourth and fifth warnings, he counsels: “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12–14. This is not referring to physical lameness but to spiritual lameness. In every church today there are people who, because of their inheritance or their home background, are spiritually lame. If a child grows up in a home where he does not receive adequate affection, when he becomes old, he will become a hard-hearted person. There are many hard-hearted people in our churches today; they are spiritually crippled and not able to do what they otherwise could without this handicap.

There are many other ways that a person can be spiritually crippled. If you are hiking and come to a place in the path where a big log has fallen over it, you just climb over the log and continue, but if you have a crippled person along with you, he is stuck right there and cannot go any further. As read before, the apostle Paul says to “make straight paths for your feet,” because there are crippled people in the church, and if you have a lot of these barriers, they will trip up; they won’t be able to make it. He says if you are not crippled, you need to be looking out for the other person, and see to it that that person doesn’t get in trouble because of an unchristlike manner of dealing with each other. Continuing in verses 14 and 15, notice what he said: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully [or pay attention] lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”

Obviously, Paul is using symbolic language when he talks about lameness. He is talking about spiritual lameness. The root of bitterness spoken of is not actually the root of some bitter herb that you may have in your garden, but it is symbolic language. The root of bitterness is our words and our feelings. We all communicate our thoughts and our feelings to other people; it is like sowing seed, and our thoughts and our feelings become multiplied.

For example, the great controversy in heaven began with one person; not two, just one. And from that one person there eventually developed a rebellion in heaven. Ellen White is very clear that at one point almost half of the angels were deceived, but some of those who were inclined to join Lucifer did not, resulting in one-third being thrown out of heaven.

How can something develop from just one person to affect one-third of the angels of heaven—billions of intelligences? Sowing seed, through communication of words, thoughts and feelings, easily does it. Ellen White describes it this way: “As the seed sown produces a harvest, and this in turn is sown, the harvest is multiplied. In our relation to others, this law holds true. Every act, every word, is a seed that will bear fruit. Every deed of thoughtful kindness, of obedience, or of self-denial, will reproduce itself in others, and through them in still others. So every act of envy, malice, or dissention is a seed that will spring up in a ‘root of bitterness’ (Hebrews 12:15), whereby many shall be defiled. And how much larger number will the ‘many’ poison? Thus the sowing of good and evil goes on for time and for eternity.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 85.

The seed does not just reproduce once; it reproduces, and then it reproduces again, then again and again. There was an elderly minister when I was a small lad who had held the office of president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. At the time there were one-half million Adventists worldwide, and Elder Spicer would tell God’s people that it would be possible to finish God’s work in three months. He said if every Adventist told just one person and that person the next day told another person, and that person the next day told another person, everybody in the world would know the gospel within three months.

That is just an illustration of how things can multiply from our words and acts. Now, the devil is alive and busy, and he wants to inject poison into our families as well as into our churches. How does he accomplish that? “The root of bitterness, envy, distrust, jealousy, and even hatred, which exists in the hearts of some church members, is the work of Satan. Such elements have a poisonous influence upon the church.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 489. If the devil can keep church members holding grudges, he gains much ground. This is a very real problem among God’s people, being unwilling to forgive.

“Satan will be highly pleased to have you cherish an unforgiving spirit instead of drawing together in even cords. But Jesus, Who places a high value upon man, is grieved to see division among brethren.” This Day With God, 121. When this unforgiving spirit is addressed, it is often justified by people saying, You don’t know what they did to me. That may be true, but no matter the cause we are admonished to, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Luke 6:27, 28. This is not something that comes easily and requires a change of heart experience on the part of the one who is wronged.

“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. …

“This sin is worse than the sin of Achan. Its influence is not confined to those who cherish it. It is a root of bitterness, whereby many are defiled. God cannot bless the church till it is purged of this evil that corrupts minds and spirits, the souls of those who do not repent and change their course of action.” The Upward Look, 122.

It is clear that the church cannot be blessed while this is going on. “He who is renewed after the Spirit of Christ will not only love God; he will love his brethren also. Those who make mistakes are to be dealt with according to the directions given in the word of God. ‘Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.’ (Galatians 6:1).” Ibid.

The gospel deals with the wrong. It does not teach us to just overlook and pretend nothing happened. But remember, when you and I were ruined, Jesus came down here to this world, not to condemn us (see John 3:17) but to save us. This is an area in which each of us needs to examine ourselves, and then often, just get over it. Give it to Jesus, casting all your cares upon Him (I Peter 5:7), and get over it. Ask yourself, what kind of spirit do I have when other people do things to me that are wrong? This is not talking about pretending that it didn’t happen.

Jesus came into the world to restore people who had fallen. He is in the restoration business, and let me tell you something else, when somebody falls and Jesus picks them up, and they fall again, He picks them up again. What if they fall a third time? Does He say, “You’re hopeless material, now”? Jesus cast the devils out of Mary Magdalene seven times. I can only imagine what the disciples thought when He was casting the devils out on the fifth and sixth occasions. “Lord, are you never going to give up?” The answer is, “No, I am not going to give up.”

Jesus is in the business of restoring people who have fallen, not just seven times, but hundreds or thousands of times if necessary, and He still helps them to get up. But we are just like Peter. We say, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother? Shall I forgive him seven times?” Peter thought that he was being very liberal, but Jesus said not seven times, but seventy times seven.

The devil is trying to inject poison, spiritual poison into every church, and that poison has the same effect whether you know it or not.

“No one should ever permit his mind to get into such a state that he will speak the words prompted by Satan. To accuse the brethren, to discourage them in their work, is to personify Satan and to be his helping hand by putting into the minds of others the evil leaven of criticism.” Bible Training School, June 1, 1903.

That is a heavy denunciation, “to personify Satan.” This refers to any kind of criticism, not just false criticism. Even if the criticism is true, it can still destroy a church. “How long will those who claim to be Christians tolerate the evil of listening to the criticisms of their brethren, and, in turn, communicate these criticisms to others, thus strengthening one another in an evil work?” Ibid.

“Souls are defiled by this root of bitterness and are, through these questioning, murmuring ones, placed where the testimony of reproof which God sends will not reach them.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 230. That is really scary, because it means that when that happens, the testimony of reproof that God sends won’t reach them.

What then should I do if I have been injured, and if I am the one who has been under the receiving end of an injury? If you do not have the grace of God in your hearts, the root of bitterness will spring up in you and many will be defiled. When you feel that you have been dealt an injury, you decide to back off and leave him alone and have nothing more to do with him and just stay separate, but the first thing you do is to tell it to someone else. This is what the Bible calls a root of bitterness. You tell your trouble to everyone but Jesus, and the reason you do this is you do not feel clear in your conscience, so of course, you do not want to tell it to your Saviour. When you spread the report, and the report may be true, you weaken that person’s influence. This can happen to anybody. Children who hear criticism will have no confidence in that person because of what they have heard or overheard.

“If you have misjudged your brother, if you have in the least degree weakened his influence, so that the message which God has given him to bear has been made of little or no effect, your sin does not rest merely with the individual, but you have resisted the Spirit of God; your attitude, your words, have been against your Saviour. Jesus says, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me’ [Matthew 25:40]. He identifies his interest with that of every human soul, believer or unbeliever. That God Who marks the fall of a sparrow, marks your deportment and your feelings; He marks your envy, your prejudice, your attempt to justify your action in the least matter of injustice.” The Review and Herald, December 16, 1890.

When you feel this way, you are going to make statements, and you are going to weaken that person’s influence, and so they regard him just the way that you do, and by the root of bitterness springing up, many are defiled. “When it is evident that your feelings are incorrect, do you try just as diligently to remove the erroneous impressions as you did to make them?” Ibid.

Jesus regards these things as having been done to Himself. As human beings, we have a tendency to put people in one of two main categories—the bad people or the good people! We can act like a Christian if we are dealing with the good people. But if we are dealing with the people that we consider bad, we justify our actions. Hitler considered the bad people to be the Jews. If he had succeeded in having them all killed, he would have started on the next group that he didn’t like.

A physician once told a story about a patient who was being treated in the emergency room and how the demeanor and the way of caring for the woman completely changed when the nurses found out the woman was a prostitute. She was immediately one of the bad people. The same thing happened in Jesus’ day. There were the good people and the bad people, and the worst of the bad people were the prostitutes and the tax collectors. One of the reasons the Pharisees became so angry at Jesus was that He made them see that the people they called the bad people would be saved where He was not so successful in being able to save them.

In the final reckoning there will be many whom we thought were the bad people who will be saved, and there will also be many people whom we thought were the good people who will be lost. What should I do if I have done an injustice to someone because of my evil speaking about them? It is not enough to confess an incident. The false impression you have made to all the people that you talked to also needs to be corrected. This takes humility to go to the person whom you have harmed and ask for forgiveness and then go to all whom you have talked to and admit your mistake. Ellen White says that you can confess it and by repentance and confession have pardon registered against your name, or you can resist the conviction of the Spirit of God and during the rest of your life, work to make it appear that your wrong feelings and unjust conclusions could not be helped. If you work hard enough, you may be able to persuade everyone if that’s really the case, but you will never be able to persuade the angels or the court of heaven where accurate records are kept.

This is a very serious problem because, “if the root of bitterness springs up, many can be defiled” and it can spread through a whole church. “You tear away the hold their brethren have on them, because you destroy their confidence in them. But do not allow the enemy so to use your tongue; for at the day of final reckoning, God will call you to give an account of your words. Do not exert an influence that will break the hold of any trembling soul from God. Even though you are not treated as you think you should be, do not allow the root of bitterness to spring up; for thereby many will be defiled.” The Voice in Speech and Song, 57.

When Paul and Silas were unfairly put in the stocks, wrongly beaten and thrown into prison and put into shackles, the jailer, who was used to his prisoners cursing and swearing, noticed there was something different about these men. In their discomfort and pain, instead of cursing, they prayed and sang in the hearing of all the prisoners around them. If you were treated unjustly, how would you react?

In The Review and Herald, September 14, 1897, Ellen White wrote, “I beseech all who engage in the work of murmuring and complaining because something has been said or done that does not suit them, and that does not, as they think, give them due consideration, to remember that they are carrying on the very work begun in heaven by Satan.” The devil knows how to do this; he has been doing it for several thousand years, and he is trying to get this going in every church, to destroy us, so we will all be at somebody’s throat, and eventually, of course, it will be our throat. “They are following in his track, sowing unbelief, discord, and disloyalty; for no one can entertain feelings of disaffection, and keep them to himself.” Ibid. Did you get that? She says, “Nobody!” That would include me, and that would include you too. “He must tell others that he is not treated as he should be. Thus they are led to murmur and complain. This is the root of bitterness, springing up, whereby many are defiled.” Ibid.

When we are caught and are forced to recognize our involvement, the temptation is to compare ourselves with others, justifying ourselves, because, after all, everyone is a bit guilty of the same thing! We attempt to distribute the guilt, but this is a deception of the devil.

“To those who have been injured without cause these words of Scripture apply, ‘If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men’ [Romans 12:18]. Their failure to live at peace with all men is not due to the course they themselves have pursued, but to the envy, jealousy, and evil surmising of those who have been in the wrong. A division is caused. How shall it be healed? Shall the man that has been sinned against, misjudged, and maligned, be called to give an account? Shall he seek for something in his past course by which he can humiliate himself? Shall he acknowledge himself in the wrong for the sake of making peace?” The Review and Herald, January 16, 1900.

What’s the answer? —No!. It would be wrong for that person to make a confession.

“No. If he has tried to do his duty, and has been patient under abuse, he is not to humble himself to acknowledge that he is guilty. He does the offenders great wrong thus to take the guilt upon his soul, admitting that he has given them occasion for their course of action. This is very pleasing to those who have done the work of the enemy; but heaven’s books record the facts just as they are. Concessions that are not true from the one who has been wrongfully treated gratify the feelings of the carnal heart. The wrongdoers interpret their position as zeal for God, when in truth it is zeal to do the work of the adversary of souls.” Ibid.

“It is a most serious matter to go from house to house, and, under pretense of doing missionary work, scatter the seed of mistrust and suspicion. Such seed speedily germinates, and there is created a distrust of God’s servants. … The word falls upon ears that will not hear, and hearts that will not respond. No earthly or heavenly power can find access to the soul. … A sister or brother in the church planted the evil seed, but who will restore the soul thus imperiled?” The Review and Herald, November 27, 1900.

We need to understand this and not go to somebody and say, “Well, we need to pray for so and so …” and then unload on them that person’s character defects. If you have to talk about somebody’s character defects, talk only to that person; don’t talk to a third party.

In summary, Ellen White says that this root of bitterness is all the result of selfishness, and if selfishness is allowed to develop, it will spring up in a root of bitterness whereby many will be defiled. What is needed is true heart searching. We need to go to the Lord and say, “Lord, I know we are in the time of judgment. Is my heart right?” The feelings that I have toward my wife or my husband, am I willing to go to the judgment bar of God and have those feelings revealed? Is that ok? But not just my wife or my husband; how about the feelings I have toward other people in the church?

On the Day of Judgment, the secrets of all hearts will be revealed. And if there are feelings toward anyone that are not right, it is going to be revealed. Now is the time to go to the Lord and say, “Lord, if I’m blind so that I don’t understand the feelings that I have that are wrong, please, Lord, have mercy on me, and by Your Holy Spirit show me those wrong feelings so that I can get them taken care of now before it is forever too late.”

It is thoughts and feelings combined that make up moral character. The heart is deceitfully wicked, and it is so easy to deceive myself. Lord, is my heart right, or do I have a wrong spirit? Do I need to go to the Lord and say, “Lord, I want my feelings toward this person or that person to be changed”?

We also have the free will not to do that. We can just go on the same until the devil injects enough poison and the church splits or something worse. Looking at our churches today, we wonder why people are not flocking in to worship with us for we have the truth for the last days, the Three Angels’ Messages. “The Spirit of God did not come into our meetings in a more marked manner … because of the dissentions which are allowed to exist among brethren. With some there existed envious and jealous feelings, evil surmising, tale bearing and fault-finding. These were referred to by the apostle as a root of bitterness.” The Signs of the Times, May 6, 1880.

Watch out, so you don’t think you are the children of God when you are actually the children of the devil because of your speech. “Nothing so manifestly weakens a church as disunion and strife. Nothing so wars against Christ and the truth as this spirit.” My Life Today, 276.

“The heart must be cleansed. Wrong-doing is the overflowing of the fountain of an unclean, unconverted heart.” Testimonies for the Church Containing Messages of Warning and Instruction to Seventh-day Adventists, 22.

“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.

“This sin is worse than the sin of Achan. Its influence is not confined to those who cherish it. It is a root of bitterness, whereby many are defiled. God cannot bless the church till it is purged of this evil that corrupts minds and spirits.” The Upward Look, 122.

Are you willing to say, “Lord, search me. Search my spirit, and see Lord, is there any wicked way in me”?

If you pray that prayer, also pray that you will be ready for a shock when you pray like David, Lord, I want you to search me. David said, “Thou hast possessed my reins.” Psalm 139:13 KJV. That word reins comes from the Hebrew word that means kidneys. In those days, the kidneys were thought to be the focal point or center of the person’s feelings. So David was saying, “Lord, search all my emotions, and know, is there any wicked way; do I have any evil feelings in my heart, in my mind?”

I encourage you to determine, as I am, to pray, day by day about the kind of feelings you have and ask the Lord, “Can I be taken to heaven right now with the feelings that I have, or is there need of change?” When there is unity and the Spirit of Christ in the church, we will see many more people accept the truths we know. Almost every time there is a split in the church or home it has to do with hurt feelings. “When selfishness is cut away from our experience, what a change will be seen in our lives. We shall not then be at variance with one another.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 143.

This subject is so important that on the deathbed of her husband, James, Ellen White asked him point blank, “Do you love Jesus?”

He replied, “Yes, I do.”

She talked to him about that for a long time, about his feelings, then asked again, “Do you love Jesus, or do you have feelings against somebody. If you have feelings against somebody, you are not ready to die.”

“If Satan can get in among the people [and produce] a spirit of criticism, then he is satisfied, for a root of bitterness springs up in these [members] wherewith he will be satisfied.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 39.

Often death gives no warning; if you have ill feelings against anyone, make it right today. Talk to the Lord about it and get rid of that root of bitterness that will cost you eternal life.

“Lord, search my thoughts and my feelings, and impress me by Your Holy Spirit, if I have any wrong feelings toward somebody in my family or somebody in my church.” When Jesus, our Example, went to the cross, He did not have one murmuring feeling or feeling of discontent. If we want to be like Jesus, our feelings and thoughts must also be pure.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

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