Sermons and Talks, vol. 1


Picking Flaws Morning Talk by Mrs. E. G. White Ottawa, Kansas, May 12, 1889

The enemy is at work with those who have placed themselves in doubt and unbelief; and they are not satisfied only to be there themselves, but all the time they are strengthening others in the same line, and they want others to believe just as they do. From the light God has given me, there never was any new light that came from heaven but that Satan could find something in it to pick at. And so it is with some of the people of today—they will pick at little things. They want the light, but there comes along the enemy just as he did to the men of Nazareth, and although the Spirit of God told them that Jesus was the anointed one and Christ told them what His work was—to break the power of the enemy and let the oppressed go free, to loose the bands of wickedness and to preach the gospel to the poor [see Luke 4:18]—[they remained in doubt and unbelief]. 1SAT 93.1

But it seems to me that we do not take these things and learn the lessons from them that we should. Now the unbelieving came up and the devil took advantage of it and began to work, and they began to say among themselves, Who is this? Is not this the son of Joseph and Mary? And just the minute this thought came into their minds they began to work it out. And you know how it worked. They arose right up and laid hold of Christ and led Him to the brow of the hill and were going to destroy Him. Now, there has not been any improvement made in human nature since that time. Human nature is human nature still. If there is any little point where they can divert the mind, they make the most of it. You see it in the counsels. It has been presented to me again and again. They [church leaders] are laying plans for the work of God, trying to make arrangements whereby they can advance the work of God, and there stands someone trying to trig [block] the wheels. As I said to one of our brethren not long since, “You have done more to set back the work of God than ten or twenty of our enemies, because you construe some point into something wonderful, and you have held the committee for hours over nothing, only to throw in a block to trig the wheel, and the time wasted and the good resolutions that should have been carried have been lost. You come in and they think you are a good man, a moral man, and what you say is all right, but every time you have a chunk to throw in, and they are worried out in their counsels and nothing is accomplished which should have been done, on account of this hindrance.” 1SAT 93.2

Now brethren I want to tell you, when the Spirit of God comes into our midst, it will strike the minds that are ready to receive it. But if their minds are not open to receive it, they are all ready to pass judgment upon the messenger and the words spoken. In the place of coming to God and asking Him to give them a new heart and a new mind, that the transforming influence of the grace of God shall be upon them, they commence to find fault and pick flaws. It doesn't strike them, and it must harmonize with their ideas and they will stand right there until these things are culled out of the way, and they place themselves right there to judge. This is the way it was at Minneapolis. 1SAT 94.1

It is because I know the very same spirit is here, and that we should not give place to it for a moment that I say these things. I know that while the Spirit of God will make impressions upon human minds, the enemy will come in and make the most of any little thing that it is possible to make and the leaven will begin to work because the devil wants it so. Now brethren and sisters I want to place you on your guard. I want to ask you if you are satisfied with your coldness, your unbelief, your backslidings. Have you not had enough of it? If not, the devil will give you all you desire. We don't want any more. 1SAT 95.1

We see that we are in no better condition than the Jewish people. God gave them the clear light that they might stand as His holy, peculiar people. He had given them the prophets, and then Christ Himself came in order that He might present the truth to them. But when His own nation rejected Him, He turned away. He told them, “Ye have ears, but ye hear not, eyes have ye but ye see not.” (cf. Jeremiah 5:21.) Then they inquired, “Are we blind also?” Christ said, “If ye were blind no sin would be attached, but it is because light has come and ye choose darkness rather than light.” (See John 9:14) Was it a real darkness? No, it was not. The light of truth had shone upon them, but Satan was throwing his blinder before their eyes, and they received it not. 1SAT 95.2

Now brethren, there is a blessing here for you. You may think it strange that I speak to you about these things, but it is my duty. We never want this thing acted over again on God's earth; and if God gives me strength I will do it. I want you to inquire, How is it with my soul? Will you take the light, or will you stand complaining? It is time we should know where we are. We should have a chance to pray and talk and seek God. What we want is the Lord, and we don't want anything else. But we have it here in these words of Zechariah. Joshua stood before the Lord, and Satan stood there at His right hand to resist him. “The Lord rebuke thee,” He said, “is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2). 1SAT 95.3

Now here are the people of God and God wants you to be getting ready for the great day of salvation, that you may be getting others ready. He wants you to have a fitting-up, that you may have a message for the people that will cut its way through the fleshy heart, and that you may go crying through the porch and the altar, “Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach” (Joel 2:17). Now open your ears to the truth you have had and put away your doubts, unbelief, and Christless surmisings. 1SAT 96.1

God wants you to come and drink of the clear waters of the streams of Lebanon, and when you have drunk yourselves you will want to call others to drink. Convert after convert is presented to me who does not know what it is to have faith in Christ. It seems they are ready to die; there is no light in them; they are dying for the want of God. 1SAT 96.2

I went to a meeting where I could stay only three days, and in that time I spoke to them seven times. They begged of me to stay longer; they seemed starved, and they would get up and talk of how they wanted this truth and this light, but the devil was ready to bring in something to shut out the light, and many are ready to have it so. They don't know what the pure atmosphere is, but may the Lord help us that the clear light of His glory may surround us. May God help us to stand on vantage ground before the enemy that we shall have our minds broken off from things below and get hold from above. 1SAT 96.3

Christ, when talking to the people of His time, told them that they had blinded their eyes and closed their ears lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and be converted and He should save them. (See Matthew 13:15) Light had been given them, but they would not receive it. Darkness was upon them, and they would come and pick the little flaws, and draw the minds of the people away from the solemn truth that was for them. Now, how will it be with us? We don't want to kill ourselves here laboring for you, but will you labor for yourselves? We want to know whether we will have the rich blessing of the Lord resting upon us, and we realize that He sheds His rich light and glory upon us. This is my prayer.—Manuscript 2, 1889. (MR 900.22) 1SAT 97.1