Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4


Obstinacy Not Independence

Brother G, it will be uphill work for you to cultivate pure, unselfish love and disinterested benevolence. You have not much experience in yielding your opinions and ideas, and in sometimes giving up your own judgment and being guided by the counsel of others. Brother and Sister G, you both need to have less of self and more of the grace of God. You both need to acquire a habit of self-government, that your thoughts may be brought into subjection to the Spirit of Christ. It is the grace of God that you need in order that your thoughts may be disciplined to flow in the right channel, that the words you utter may be right words, and that your passions and appetites may be subject to the control of reason, and the tongue be bridled against levity and unhallowed censure and faultfinding. “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” The greatest triumph given us by the religion of Christ is control over ourselves. Our natural propensities must be controlled, or we can never overcome as Christ overcame. 4T 235.1

There are some among the professed followers of Christ who are spiritual dyspeptics. They are self-made invalids, and their spiritual debility is the direct result of their own shortcomings. They do not obey the laws of God nor carry out the principles of His commandments. They are indolent in His cause and work, accomplishing nothing themselves; but when they think they see something with which they can find fault, then they are active and zealous. A Christian who does not work cannot be healthy. Spiritual disease is the result of neglected duty. In order for a man's faith to be strong, he must be much with God in secret prayer. How can a man's benevolence be a blessing to him if he never exercises it? How can we ask God to help in the conversion of souls unless we are doing all in our power to bring them to the knowledge of the truth? You have brought upon yourself a debility which has made you useless to yourself and to the church, and the remedy is repentance, confession, and reform. You need moral power and the real nourishment of the grace of God. Nothing will give bone and sinew to your piety like working to advance the cause you profess to love, instead of binding it. There is but one genuine cure for spiritual laziness, and that is work—working for souls who need your help. Instead of strengthening souls, you have been discouraging and weakening the hearts and hands of those who would see the cause of God advance. 4T 235.2

God has given you abilities which you can use to good account, or abuse to your own injury and to the injury of others. You have not realized the claims that God has upon you. It should be ever borne in mind that we are living in this world to form characters for the next. And all our associations with our fellow mortals should be with reference to their eternal interest and to our own; but if our interviews with them are devoted only to pleasure and to our own selfish gratification, if we are light and trifling, if we indulge in wrong acts, we are not co-workers with God, but are decidedly working against Him. The precious lives God has given us are not to be molded by unbelieving relatives in a way to please the carnal mind, but to be spent in a manner which God can approve. 4T 236.1

If Brother J enjoyed the love of God, he would be a channel of light. He has too little moral power, with strong tendencies to unbelief. He is pitied by the heavenly angels, for he is surrounded with darkness. His ears hear words of unbelief and darkness almost continually. He has doubts and questionings constantly thrown before him. The tongue is a world of iniquity. “The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” If Brother J would cling to God more firmly and feel that he should preserve his integrity before God even at the cost of his natural life, he would receive strength from above. If he allows his faith to be affected by the darkness and unbelief that surrounds him—the doubts and questioning and much talk—he will soon be all darkness and doubt and unbelief, and will have no light or strength in the truth. 4T 236.2

He need not think that by seeking to compromise with his friends, who are embittered against our faith, he will make it easier for himself. If he stands with the single purpose to obey God at any cost he will have help and strength. God loves and pities Brother J. He knows every perplexity, every discouragement, every bitter speech. He is acquainted with it all. If he will lay aside his unbelief and stand in God unmoved, his faith will be strengthened by exercise. “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.” 4T 237.1

I saw Brethren J and G in special danger of losing eternal life. They did not see that they were standing directly in the way of the advancement of the work of God in _____. When the tent meeting was held there the first time we were upon this coast, hundreds were convicted of the truth; but God knew the material of which that church was composed. If souls came out into the truth, there were none to nourish and cherish them, and to lead them along to an elevated life. Brother I was of an envious, faultfinding, jealous spirit. Unless he could be first, he would not do anything. He esteemed himself far more highly than God esteemed him. A man of his temperament will not, long at a time, be in agreement with anyone; for it is his element to contend, and to array himself in opposition to anything that does not suit his ideas. The Lord left him to take his own course and to manifest what manner of spirit he was of. He brought into the church, and sought to carry out there, the very same spirit that he carried out in his family. His bitterness and his cruel speeches against the servants of God are written in the book. He will meet them again. He went out from us because he was not of us. And in no case should the church encourage him to unite with them again; for, with the spirit he now has, he would quarrel even with the angels of God. He would wish to rule and dictate the work of the angels. No such spirit can enter heaven. I and J, whom God frowns upon, have dared to withstand the servants of God, to malign them, and to impute to them evil motives. They have tried to destroy the confidence of the brethren in these workers as well as in the Testimonies. But if the work is of God, they cannot overthrow it. Their efforts will be in vain. Brother G, you were in such darkness that you thought these men were right. You have repeated their words and talked of the one-man power.” Oh, how little you knew what you were talking about! 4T 237.2

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. 4T 238.1

Who would nourish those who should take their stand to obey all of God's commandments? Who would be nursing fathers and nursing mothers to those who need help and strength? Do these brethren know what they are doing? They are standing directly in the way of sinners. They are blocking up the way by their own wrong course. The blood of souls will be on their garments unless they repent and entirely change their course. Do these disaffected ones think that they are right and the body of Sabbathkeepers deluded? By their fruits ye shall know them.” Whom is God blessing? Whom is He leading? Who are at work for Him? Who are doing good in laboring to get the truth before other minds? Do these men think that the body will come to them and give up their experience and views to follow the judgment of these unconsecrated ones? or will they come into harmony with the body? 4T 238.2

Brother G boasts of his independence of mind and judgment, while he is blocking up the way of sinners by his unconsecrated life and his opposition to the work in blindly warring against Christ in the persons of His servants; but he is deceived in the quality of true independence. Independence is not obstinacy, although obstinacy is often confounded with independence. When Brother G has formed an opinion, and expressed it in his family or in the church with considerable confidence and with some publicity, he is then inclined to make it appear that he is right by every argument he can produce. He is in danger, great danger, of closing his eyes and violating his conscience by his persistency; for the temptation of the enemy is strong upon him. His pride of opinion is hard to yield, even in the face of light and evidence sufficient to convince him if he would be convinced. He thinks that if he should admit that he was wrong, it would be a reflection on his judgment and discernment. 4T 239.1

Brother G, you are in great danger of losing your soul. You want to have the pre-eminence. At times you feel deeply if you think you are slighted. You are not a happy man. You will not be happy if you leave the people of God, taking offense at plain words and facts, as did many of the followers of Christ, because the truth spoken was too close. You will not be a happy man, for you will take yourself with you. You are not right; you make trouble for yourself. Your temperament is your enemy, and go where you will you will take yourself with your burden of unhappiness. It is an honor to confess a wrong as soon as it is discerned. 4T 239.2

There are many matters in connection with the work of God with which you find fault, because it is natural for you to do so. And since you have turned your face against the light God revealed to you in regard to yourself, you are fast losing your discernment and are more than ever ready to find fault with everything. You give your opinion with dictatorial confidence and treat the queries of others in regard to your opinion as personal abuse. True, refined independence never disdains to seek counsel of the experienced and of the wise, and it treats the counsel of others with respect. 4T 240.1