Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 52, 1899

The Danger of Self-Sufficiency


April 2, 1899

Previously unpublished.

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field, but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then the tares appeared also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servant said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.” [Matthew 13:24-30.] 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 1

There are tares in the church, and the inquiry is made, “Wilt thou that we go and gather them up?” The answer is, No; “let both grow together until the harvest.” [Verses 28, 29.] Should the work of condemning church-members and purifying the church be committed to the human agent, terrible mistakes would be made. But all judgment is committed to the Son of God, who in humanity lived the law of God. He understands the strength of the temptations that come to every child of His. 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 2

I address my self to you, my Brother H. Have you not professedly received light from the Bible and from the ministry of the Word? What have you been doing for years? What are you doing now? Are you opening your heart to receive Christ? Are you striving to be like him in character. A great responsibility rests upon each one who has the privilege of knowing the Word of God. Said the apostle, “How can they hear without a preacher? And how can he preach unless he be sent?” [Romans 10:14, 15.] “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away, and, behold, all things have become new.” [2 Corinthians 5:17.] 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 3

As the light of truth shines into the chambers of the mind, the defects are revealed. The soul temple is cleansed from selfishness, hardness, ungodliness. Then appears the fruit of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” [Galatians 5:22, 23.] 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 4

Paul tells us that he was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and he died. He was made aware of his ignorance of the true principles of the law. He did not know what coveting meant until the law said to him, Thou shalt not covet. The law pointed him out as a sinner in the eyes of God. He had been without knowledge of sin, but the great standard of righteousness condemned sin in the flesh. His self-sufficiency left him. He received the truth declared in the gospel, laid hold of the Saviour, and the truth immediately began its work of purification. 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 5

The Lord reads the motives of every heart. He has a controversy with you. Your great need is the need of that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. Have you this faith? The truly converted soul will cease to accuse and condemn others. He will see himself erring, in need of purification because of past transgressions. You have not fallen on the Rock and been broken. If you had, you would cease ascribing piety and virtue to yourself. You would cease aspiring to be great, and would humble your heart before God. 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 6

God will never entrust His flock to a man of your temperament, for you would either rule or ruin. “The diseased have ye not healed, the bruised have ye not bound up.” [Ezekiel 34:4.] The Lord does not give His flock into the charge of those who bite and devour, who have so high an estimate of self that they know not how to give meat in due season, how to minister to the sick and suffering in the flock. You need an entire transformation of character. You know not how to behave in your home as a Christian gentleman, how to be kind, gentle, and considerate. Self is your idol. When the love of Christ fills your heart, your character will change decidedly. In the place of filling your thoughts and conversation with criticism, you will realize that your past life has been a failure. You will walk humbly before God. 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 7

I entreat you to fear lest you lose eternal life because of not knowing God. Christ said to Peter, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” [Luke 22:32.] When you are converted, your entire life will testify that a reformation has taken place. A fountain cannot send forth from the same place sweet water and bitter. If you are drinking from the fountain of the water of life, you will love all who believe in Jesus. Christ loves all mankind. Every one of his purchased inheritance is dear to him, and when you have the mind of Christ, you will lose your unholy spirit. Those in your family, in the church, and in the world will see that the fountain of your heart is losing its bitterness, and that the stream that flows from it is pure. Your words will not be sharp, dictatorial, and arbitrary. You will not manifest the characteristics of the Pharisee, for the grace of God will abide in your heart, and you will be renewed in grace and true holiness. 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 8

By faultfinding, you have placed yourself on the side of him who is an accuser of the brethren. Your influence is exerted in the wrong direction, and the only safe thing for you to do is to be converted. Then you will cease to leaven the church with envy, suspicion, faultfinding, and accusing. 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 9

My brother, you are religiously sick, and do not know it. The great sin that has caused the ruin of thousands and thousands of souls is pride. Self-sufficiency, self-satisfaction, is the hardest of all sins to overcome. There is hope for every man who humbles his heart before God and confesses his sin. If a man has given himself up to lust and lasciviousness, if he has been unfaithful to his marriage vow, his case is not hopeless. If he realizes that he has violated the law of God, if he repents and confesses his sin to his Maker and to those he has injured, and earnestly strives to make restitution for the past by kindness and sympathy, he will receive forgiveness. Nothing else will avail. Only by pursuing this course can his soul be cleared from guilt. If he does not show the evidences of reformation, his sin remains charged against him in the books of heaven. 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 10

If a covetous, self-centered man sees his sin in the light of the law, and repents, bringing forth fruit meet for repentance, God looks upon him with pleasure. And as he practices self-denial, he learns that it is more blessed to give than to receive. 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 11

But when a man possesses defects of character, and yet fails to realize this, when he is so imbued with self-sufficiency that he cannot see his fault, how can he be cleansed from sin? “They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” [Luke 5:31.] How can a man improve when he thinks his ways are perfect? The sin that is most hopeless and incurable is pride of opinion, self-conceit. This sin stands [in] the way of all advancement and growth. Thus it was with the Pharisees in the days of Christ. The Lord set before them their true position, pronouncing a woe upon their self-righteousness, and declaring that the publicans and harlots would go into the kingdom of heaven before the scribes and Pharisees, because they knew that they were sinners, and showed genuine repentance. But the leaders in Israel did not come to Christ in repentance; for they did not think that they needed a Saviour. They did not realize that they cherished sins which needed to be repented of, forsaken, and forgiven. 14LtMs, Ms 52, 1899, par. 12