Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

June 23, 1887

No Cloak for Their Sins

By Mrs. E. G. White

“And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.”

Had the Pharisees, to whom these words were addressed, been really blind or ignorant through want of capacity to learn or opportunity for instruction, they would have been comparatively free from guilt in their determined opposition to Christ. But they had the most favorable opportunity to obtain an understanding of the Scriptures; and they prided themselves on their knowledge and discernment, while they were willfully closing their eyes to the light Christ declared of them: “Ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God.” They had stubbornly refused to receive instruction; therefore all the opportunities which they enjoyed, all the wisdom, ability and knowledge of which they proudly boasted, would only increase their condemnation in the day of final Judgment.

God gives us sufficient evidence to enable us to accept the truth understandingly; but he does not propose to remove all occasion for doubt and unbelief. Should he do this, there would no longer be a necessity for the exercise of faith; for we would be able to walk by sight. All who with a teachable spirit study the word of God, may learn therefrom the way of salvation; yet they may not be able to understand every portion of the Sacred Record. The apostle Peter declares that in the epistles of Paul, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there are “some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable, wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Whatever is clearly established by the word of God we should accept, without attempting to meet every doubt which Satan may suggest, or with our finite understanding to fathom the counsels of the infinite One, or to criticise the manifestations of his grace or power.

Those who are continually looking for something to find fault with, something to strengthen unbelief in the word of God, will soon find themselves so completely under the power of doubt and unbelief that nothing will seem sure to them; they will find no solid foundation anywhere. It is a duty to encourage faith and devotion. If we seek in humility to learn the will of God as revealed in his word, and then obey that will as it is made plain to our understanding, we shall become rooted and grounded in the truth. Said Christ: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.”

The case of Paul shows how one may be blinded by prejudice while thinking that he is doing God service. Paul was a persevering, earnest persecutor of the church of Christ. Yet he was conscientious in it, fully believing it to be his duty to do all he could to exterminate the alarming doctrine that Jesus was the Prince of Life, the long-excepted Messiah. Paul verily believed that faith in Jesus made of none effect the law of God, the religious service of sacrificial offerings, and the rite of circumcision, which had in past ages received the full sanction of God.

But Paul was arrested in his mad yet honest career. Jesus, whose name of all others he most hated and despised, revealed himself to Paul, that he might make this most unpromising instrument a chosen vessel to bear the gospel to the Gentiles. As the miraculous revelation of Christ brings light into the darkened chambers of his mind, he sees his mistaken zeal, and that the One against whom he is arrayed is indeed the Christ, the Redeemer of the world.

Paul learns that Jesus, whom in his blindness he considered an impostor, is indeed the author of all true religion, even from the days of Adam. Christ had been regarded as making of none effect the law of God; but when his eyes were open to discern spiritual truth he saw that Christ came into the world for the express purpose of vindicating his Father's law. He learned that Christ was the originator and the foundation of the entire Jewish system of sacrifices, and that in his death type met antitype. He saw in the Man of Calvary the vindicator of truth, the fulfiller of prophecy.

In the light of the law, Paul sees himself a sinner. He finds he has been transgressing that very law which he thought he had been keeping so zealously. He repents and dies to sin; he becomes obedient to the claims of God's law, accepts Christ as his Saviour, is baptized, and preaches Jesus as earnestly and zealously as he once condemned him.

Paul was a learned teacher in Israel, a nation that had been for many generations the true people of God, and the depositaries of his law; but he was blinded by error and prejudice. This is the case with many now. Arguments against the truth, subtle in their influence, affect minds that are not enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have not become fully informed with regard to Bible truth. In many cases, selfishness, dishonesty, and the varied sins that prevail in this degenerate age, blunt the senses so that the truth of God is not discerned. But when, as in Paul's case, there is honesty of purpose, and a desire to do the will of God, the truth will be accepted when it is made plain to the understanding.

Those who are seeking to know the truth, who are faithful to the light already received, and in the performance of every-day duties, will surely know of the doctrine; for they will be guided into all truth. God does not promise, by the masterly arts of his providence, to irresistibly bring men to the knowledge of his truth, when they do not seek for truth, and have no desire to understand it. The Spirit of God is continually convicting, and souls are deciding for or against obedience to God. But men are allowed freedom of action; the power of choosing is left with them. They may be obedient through the name and grace of the Redeemer, or they may be disobedient, and realize the consequences of their course. Man is himself responsible for receiving or rejecting sacred truth.

Our Savior admonished his disciples: “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” A cunning and vigilant foe attends our steps, and employs his skill in trying to turn us out of the right way. He does not come in a visible form; but by his representatives he is ever on our track, and through them he brings his power to bear upon us when we least suspect his presence. He works in darkness, and controls all who will be deceived by his devices. But the grace of God is pledged for us, and the path of obedience is the path of safety. “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely.” Walk in the light and “then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy feet shall not stumble.”

“If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world; but if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.” Then let us draw nearer and nearer to the pure light of Heaven, remembering that divine illumination will increase according to our onward movements, qualifying us to meet new responsibilities and emergencies. The path of the just is progressive, from strength to strength, from grace to grace, and from glory to glory.

It was through constant conflict and simple faith that Enoch walked with God. We may all do the same. We may be thoroughly converted and transformed, and be indeed children of God, not only enjoying his favor, but, by our example, leading others in the path of humble obedience and consecration. Real godliness is diffusive and communicative. The psalmist says: “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart. I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation. I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation.” This course is just the opposite of that pursued by the blind Pharisees, to whom Jesus said, “Thy sin remaineth.”

Basel, Switzerland.

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