Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

April 25, 1895

Prejudice Blinds to Truth

By Mrs. E. G. White

“In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the Angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit; therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.” From the beginning of sin Christ was with his people to dispute the authority of Satan; for he saw that the conflict must be carried on here in the earth. Satan withstood the Son of God in every effort to redeem his people. Enshrouded in the pillar of cloud by day and in the pillar of fire by night, Christ directed, guided, counseled the children of Israel in their journeyings from Egypt to Canaan. But how unwilling were the children of Israel to be led, how unwilling to be controlled by the voice of the Angel of the Lord! How eager they were in vindicating their own course, in justifying themselves in their rebellious feelings, and to follow their own ideas and plans!

It was the mighty Counselor who was enshrouded in the pillar of cloud and fire, and who was beholding the encampment of his people. It was he that corrected them in their evil ways, and encouraged them to trust in the living God to lead them safely to the land of promise. They were continually under the eye that never slumbers nor sleeps, and yet they murmured against Moses, the man whom God had appointed as their visible leader, and to whom Jesus Christ talked face to face, as a man talketh with his friend. Notwithstanding the fact that the Lord wrought through his servant Moses, yet when the enemy tempted them to evil surmising, jealousy, and fault-finding, they did not resist his temptations and stand firmly for principle. But their failure is explained by the inspired word, and a warning given to us upon whom the ends of the world are come, lest we also fall after the same example of unbelief. “Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their hearts; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.”

The children of Israel fell under the power of the enemy by cherishing an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, and when once they were found on the enemy's side, he pressed his advantage, and made them his allies to the utmost extent. The sin of unbelief, by which their confidence in the Son of God was destroyed, led Israel far astray. At the very time when they should have been praising God and magnifying the name of the Lord, talking of his goodness, telling of his power, they were found in unbelief, and full of murmuring and complaint. The deceiver was seeking through every means possible to sow discord among them, to create envy and hatred in their hearts against Moses, and to stir up rebellion against God, and by listening to the voice of the great deceiver they were led into affliction, trial, and destruction.

When Jesus came as a man to our world, Satan had led the Jews into the practice of a religion that pleased the powers of darkness. The professed people of God had departed from God, and were following another leader. Through their own perversity, they were going on to destruction; but Christ came to dispute the authority of Satan. He was met on every hand by the temptation of the enemy, who sought to appear not as a fallen, evil angel, but as an exalted, loyal angel. He sought to veil his true character of the deceiver, the falsifier, the apostate, the accuser of the brethren, and the murderer, and to present himself as one who had the honor of God at heart. But the life of Christ was made one long scene of conflict. Satan stirred up the evil hearts of men, and set envy and prejudice at work against the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. He caused men to question and to doubt the word, works, and mission of Christ.

Although the Jews had long waited for the coming of the Messiah, yet when he came, they would not believe on him. They followed Christ from place to place, in order that, if possible, they might catch some word from his lips to misstate, misconstrue, and publish abroad, giving it a meaning that had neither been expressed nor intended. Thus the way of Christ was hedged up by men who claimed to be just and holy men. They were suspicious of Christ because his teaching did not agree with their preconceived ideas and opinions, and if they acknowledged Christ to be right, at the same time they acknowledged themselves to be in the wrong. The work of Christ testified to his divine mission and character, and marked him out as the light of the world. He bore the divine credentials, but, filled with self-righteousness, they would not permit themselves to believe in his heavenly authority. Blinded by prejudice, they could not discern his true character. They turned from the voice of the true Shepherd, and listened to the suggestions of the enemy of all righteousness.

Christ was a living representation of the law. There was no violation of its holy precepts in his life. Looking around upon a nation of witnesses, who were eagerly seeking for something to question, searching for some mistake or error, in order that they might have something whereby to condemn him, he could ask, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” They made high professions of godliness, and claimed to be advanced in knowledge, and because Jesus did not praise and glorify them as a nation superior to others, they were offended, and were determined to counteract his influence and make of no effect his teaching.

Christ was one with the Father, on a level with the eternal throne, and the glory of God fell directly upon him, and was reflected to the world in the luster of the greatness of the character of the Son of God. His voice came with the authority of the living oracles, as from one who reigned in the midst of the central glory; yet those for whom he was laboring, in order that he might save them from eternal ruin, did not know his voice or believe his word. The enemy was at work upon human hearts in the days of Christ, in order that he might keep the light from the people. Many of the wise men who listened to the teachings of Christ, were convinced that the power of God was with him, but they would not accept him as the Messiah. With a great show of prudence they guarded the people, lest they should be led astray, and cautioned them not to be hasty in receiving the new doctrines that were taught by this new Teacher; for his theories and practices were at variance with the doctrines that they had received from the fathers. They said to the people: You are in danger of being deceived. Do not commit yourselves to these new doctrines, for if this man is the Christ, he will give some remarkable evidence of divine character. In this way Satan led men who might have been a power for Christ, to work on the enemy's side in the controversy, and to become agents whereby he instilled into the hearts of the people questioning, suspicion, doubt, and hatred. Although many of the priests and rulers believed on him, they delayed in acknowledging him, for fear of being put out of their positions.

The leaders of the people were ever watching for an excuse for their attitude of unbelief, and when he wrought his most convincing miracles, were ready to catch up anything that would appear like an objection to his divine claims.

When Jesus had healed the palsied man, he had said to him, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins (he said unto the sick of the palsy), I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.”

In the miracle which Christ had wrought, he had changed the man's heart, and had renewed him in mind and body, thus demonstrating to the Pharisees the fact that he had power to forgive sins, and to bring righteousness and peace to the sinner. Yet the Pharisees saw in his words of divine power, a matter for unbelief and accusation. Conscious of his high integrity and authority as the Son of God, his words had amazing power, and even as he descended step by step in the path of humiliation on the way to Gethsemane and the cross, his words were such as commanded the respect of men and caused them to exclaim, “Never man spake like this man.” With what authority he rebuked the sins of men in high authority! Truth was to him truth, and it never suffered at his hands. To him truth was a living reality, for he was the Author of truth. “To this end,” he says, “was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” The truth came from his lips with the freshness of a new revelation. He exalted the truth always. But men did not love the truth, they loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. They did not desire to be told of their errors and sins, to be reproved and corrected. The hearts of those whom he longed to save were determined to resist him.

Jesus saw that, however deeply rooted were the principles that were set in opposition to the principles he proclaimed, yet they were delusion and falsehood, and had originated in the enemy of all righteousness. Jesus said to the people, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Christ was the embodiment of truth and holiness. He it was who had stood in the councils of God, and dwelt in the innermost sanctuary of the Eternal. He knew whereof he spoke. He was presenting to them the truth of the highest order, revealing to men the infinite mind, giving to men the words of eternal life. He was revealing to them the character of the Father, but the men who stood high in knowledge and position, who claimed to possess superior spiritual understanding, failed to comprehend the knowledge that Jesus came to impart. They failed to grasp with their human understanding that which had been from everlasting, and was known to the Father and to the Son. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and, lacking the Spirit of God, they were left in the blindness of darkness. Refusing the light of heaven, “because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful,” they “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

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