The Articles of Ellen Gould Harmon White as printed in the Signs of the Times.
October 23, 1879 Wisdom and Compassion of Jesus.
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White

While was engaged in , the brought to him a woman whom they accused of the of , and said to him, , “now in the us that such should be ; but what sayest thou? This they said, him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.”

The and had agreed to bring this case before Jesus, thinking that whatever decision he made in regard to it, they would therein find occasion to and him. If he should acquit the woman, they would accuse him of despising the , and condemn him on that account; and if he should declare that she was , they would accuse him to the as one who was stirring up sedition and assuming authority which alone belonged to them. But Jesus well knew for what purpose this case had been brought to him; he read the secrets of their hearts, and knew the character and life-history of every man in his presence. He seemed indifferent to the question of the Pharisees, and while they were talking and pressing about him, he stooped and wrote carelessly with his finger in the sand.

Although doing this without apparent design, Jesus was tracing on the ground, in legible characters, the particular sins of which the woman’s accusers were guilty, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. At length the Pharisees became impatient at the indifference of Jesus, and his delay in deciding the question before him, and drew nearer, urging the matter. But as their eyes fell upon the words written in the sand, fear and surprise took possession of them. The people, looking on, saw their countenances suddenly change, and pressed forward to discover what they were regarding with such an expression of astonishment and shame. Many of those who thus gathered round also read the record of hidden sin inscribed against these accusers of another.

Then Jesus “lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.” The accusers saw that Jesus not only knew the secrets of their past sins, but was acquainted with their purpose in bringing this case before him and had in his matchless wisdom defeated their deeply laid scheme. They now became fearful lest Jesus would expose their guilt to all present, and they therefore “being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

There was not one of her accusers but was more guilty than the conscience stricken woman who stood trembling with shame before him. After the Pharisees had hastily left the presence of Christ, in their guilty consternation, he arose and looked upon the woman, saying, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.”

Jesus did not palliate sin nor lessen the sense of crime; but he came not to condemn; he came to lead sinners to eternal life. The world looked upon this erring woman as one to be slighted and scorned; but the pure and holy Jesus stooped to address her with words of comfort, encouraging her to reform her life. Instead of to condemn the guilty, his work was to reach into the very depths of human woe and degradation, lift up the debased and sinful, and bid the trembling penitent to “sin no more.” When the woman stood before Jesus, cowering under the accusation of the Pharisees and a sense of the enormity of her crime, she knew that her life was trembling in the balance, and that a word from Jesus would add fuel to the indignation of the crowd, so that they would immediately stone her to death.

Her eyes droop before the calm and searching glance of Christ. Stricken with shame, she is unable to look upon that holy countenance. As she thus stands waiting for sentence to be passed upon her, the words fall upon her astonished ears that not only deliver her from her accusers, but send them away convicted of greater crimes than hers. After they are gone, she hears the mournfully solemn words: “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.” Her heart melts with penitential grief; and, with gratitude to her Deliverer, she bows at the feet of Jesus sobbing out in broken accents the emotions of her heart, and confessing her sins with bitter tears.

This was the beginning of a new life to this tempted, fallen soul, a life of purity and peace, devoted to the service of God. In raising this woman to a life of virtue, Jesus performed a greater act than that of healing the most grievous bodily malady; he cured the sickness of the soul which is unto death everlasting. This penitent woman became one of the firmest friends of Jesus. She repaid his forgiveness and compassion, with a self-sacrificing love and worship. Afterward, when she stood sorrow-stricken at the foot of the cross, and saw the dying agony on the face of her Lord, and heard his bitter cry, her soul was pierced afresh; for she knew that this sacrifice was on account of sin; and her responsibility as one whose deep guilt had helped to bring about this anguish of the Son of God, seemed very heavy indeed. She felt that those pangs that pierced the Saviour’s frame were for her; the blood that flowed from his wounds was to blot out her record of sin; the groans which escaped from his dying lips were caused by her transgression. Her heart ached with a sorrow past all expression, and she felt that a life of self-abnegating atonement would poorly compensate for the gift of life, purchased for her at such an infinite price.

In his act of pardoning, and encouraging this fallen woman to live a better life, the character of Jesus shines forth in the beauty of a perfect righteousness. Knowing not the taint of sin himself, he pities the weakness of the erring one, and reaches to her a helping hand. The self-righteous and hypocritical Pharisees denounce, and the tumultuous crowd is ready to stone and slay, and the trembling victim waits for death–Jesus, the Friend of sinners, bids her, “Go and sin no more.” 

It is not the true follower of Christ who turns from the erring with cold, averted eyes, leaving them unrestrained to pursue their downward course. Christian charity is slow to censure, quick to detect penitence, ready to forgive, to encourage, to set the wanderer in the path of virtue, and stay his feet therein.

The wisdom displayed by Jesus on this occasion, in defending himself against the designs of his enemies, and the evidence which he gave them that he knew the hidden secrets of their lives, the conviction that he pressed home upon the guilty consciences of the very men who were seeking to destroy him, were sufficient evidence of his divine character. Jesus also taught another important lesson in this scene: That those who are ever forward to accuse others, quick to detect them in wrong, and zealous that they should be brought to justice, are often guiltier in their own lives than those whom they accuse. Many who beheld the whole scene were led to compare the pardoning compassion of Jesus with the unrelenting spirit of the Pharisees, to whom mercy was a stranger; and they turned to the pitying Saviour as unto one who would lead the repentant sinner into peace and security.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Jesus had represented himself, in his relation to fallen man, as a fountain of living water, to which all who thirst may come and drink. The brilliant lights in the temple illuminated all Jerusalem, and he now used these lights to represent his relation to the world. In clear and thrilling tones he declared: “I am the light of the world.” As the radiant lamps of the temple lit up the whole city, so Christ, the source of spiritual light, illuminated the darkness of a world lying in sin. His manner was so impressive, and his words carried with them such a weight of truth, that many were there convicted that he was indeed the Son of God. But the Pharisees, ever ready to contradict him, accused him of egotism, saying, “Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.” Jesus, answering their objections, asserted again his divine commission:–

“Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true; for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I came and whither I go.” They were ignorant of his divine character and mission because they had not searched the prophecies concerning the Messiah, as it was their privilege and duty to do. They had no connection with God and Heaven, and therefore did not comprehend the work of the Saviour of the world, and, though they had received the most convincing evidence that Jesus was the Saviour, yet they refused to open their minds to understand. At first they had set their hearts against him, and refused to believe the strongest proof of his divinity, and, as a consequence, their hearts had grown harder until they were determined not to believe nor accept him.

“Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet, if I judge, my judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” Thus he declared that he was sent of God, to do his work. He had not consulted with priests nor rulers as to the course he was to pursue; for his commission was from the highest authority, even the Creator of the universe. Jesus, in his sacred office, had taught the people, had relieved suffering, had forgiven sin, and had cleansed the temple, which was his Father’s house, and driven out its desecrators from its sacred portals; he had condemned the hypocritical lives of the Pharisees, and reproved their hidden sins; and in all this he had acted under the instruction of his Heavenly Father. For this reason they hated him and sought to kill him. Jesus declared to them: “Ye are from beneath; I am from above. Ye are of this world; I am not of this world.”

“When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me.” “And he that sent me is with me; the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” These words were spoken with thrilling power, and, for the time, closed the lips of the Pharisees, and caused many of those who listened with attentive minds to unite with Jesus, believing him to be the Son of God. To these believing ones he said, “If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” But to the Pharisees who rejected him, and who hardened their hearts against him, he declared: “I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins; whither I go, ye cannot come.”

But the Pharisees took up his words, addressed to those who believed, and commented upon them, saying, “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free:” Jesus looked upon these men,–the slaves of unbelief and bitter malice, whose thoughts were bent upon revenge,–and answered them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin.” They were in the worst of bondage, ruled by the spirit of evil. Jesus declared to them that if they were the true children of Abraham, and lived in obedience to God, they would not seek to kill one who was speaking the truth that was given him of God. This was not doing the works of Abraham, whom they claimed as their father.

Jesus, with startling emphasis, denied that the Jews were following the example of Abraham. Said he, “Ye do the deeds of your father.” The Pharisees, partly comprehending his meaning, said, “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” But Jesus answered them: “If God were your Father, ye would love me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” The Pharisees had turned from God, and refused to recognize his Son. If their minds had been open to the love of God, they would have acknowledged the Saviour who was sent to the world by him. Jesus boldly revealed their desperate condition:–

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” These words were spoken with sorrowful pathos, as Jesus realized the terrible condition into which these men had fallen. But his enemies heard him with uncontrollable anger; although his majestic bearing, and the mighty weight of the truths he uttered, held them powerless. Jesus continued to draw the sharp contrast between their position and that of Abraham, whose children they claimed to be:– 

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.” The Jews listened incredulously to this assertion, and said, sneeringly, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham:” Jesus, with a lofty dignity that sent a thrill of conviction through their guilty souls, answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” For a moment, silence fell upon all the people, as the grand and awful import of these words dawned upon their minds. But the Pharisees, speedily recovering from the influence of his words, and fearing their effect upon the people, commenced to create an uproar, railing at him as a blasphemer. “Then took they up stones to cast at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

Jenny @ 6:21 pm
March 21, 1878 The Sins of the Pharisees.
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.

“Then spake to , and to his , saying, The and the sit in . All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their ; for they say, and do not.” The claimed to be invested with similar to that of . They assumed to take his place as of the and of the people. As such they claimed all and from the people. But admonished his to observe and do that which the taught according to the law, but not to follow their , for they neglected the which they taught others to observe.

made it plain to all that he held no against the scribes and Pharisees, notwithstanding their of him; but he openly condemned their and acts as directly opposed to their , and therefore not to be imitated. Said he, “They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” The Pharisees enjoined a multitude of minute regulations having their foundation in tradition, and unreasonably restraining personal liberty of action.

God forbade the eating of beasts, not to exercise an arbitrary , but to preserve the of his people. In order for them to retain their faculties of , it was necessary that their should be kept pure, by eating simple, . He therefore specified the animals least for food. The leading Jews who delighted in and in administering the law, carried the of God to unreasonable lengths, making life a of and . They carried the regulations of eating and drinking so far that the mind was kept on a continual in between what was considered and , and in following out the multitude of injunctions imposed by the priests. All the water was strained lest the presence of the smallest or might render it unclean, and therefore unfit to use. They were in constant fear of infringing upon which were taught to them as portions of the law.

The Pharisees by their endless round of forms, fastened the minds of the people upon external services to the neglect of true religion. They failed to connect the thought of Christ with their ceremonies, and, having forsaken the fountain of living water, hewed out for themselves broken cisterns that could hold no water.

The priests, scribes and rulers not only rejected Christ themselves but took the most unfair means to prejudice the people against him, deceiving them by false reports and gross misrepresentations. Said Jesus: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” These words, condemning this sin of the Pharisees, are applicable to all who follow their example. In all ages of the world truth has been unpopular; its doctrines are not congenial to the natural mind. The cold professor, the bigot and hypocrite are not willing to accept that which searches the heart, and reproves the life. Some ministers turn the ears of the people from truth unto fables, stopping at nothing that will help to carry out their purpose. They even stoop to pervert the words and malign the characters of those who receive and love the precious truths of God, and labor to bring others to a knowledge of them.

The Saviour pronounced a woe on those who, imitating the great rebel, compass all difficulties to make one proselyte. Said he, “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” Those whom he addressed would resort to any species of deception in order to gain influence with the people, and prevent them from believing and obeying the truth. The Saviour declared of them: “Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him; when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it.” These cutting words were applied to those who made the highest pretensions to godliness, and who regarded all other nations as contemptible in the sight of God.

Just such zealous adversaries of the truth are met in our day. They leave no means untried to subvert the minds and consciences of men. They originate falsehoods, and find plenty ready to believe them. They have taken step after step away from the light into darkness, until the light has become darkness to them. They possess a determined zeal, which savors of honesty, and appears to many as such. They are willing to make great sacrifices and endure rebuffs for the sake of attaining their object, returning again and again to the same point, seeking to turn souls away from the divine truth unto superstitions and fables. These pious pretenders come as angels of light, professing deep experience in the things of God, while they are doing the work of Satan. Those whom they succeed in gaining become even worse than themselves; such is the downward road to ruin. Jesus says of this latter class, “Ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

The Saviour continued: “Woe unto you, ye blind guides, who say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind; for whether is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it he is guilty. Ye fools and blind; for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?” The priests interpreted the requirements of God to meet their false and narrow standard. They presumed to make nice distinctions between the comparative guilt of various sins, passing over some lightly, assigning as an excuse that the end justified the means, while errors of perhaps less consequence were treated as unpardonable. These blind guides so confused the minds of their followers in regard to sin and the proper standard of holiness, that they were destined to eventually perish with their leaders.

The Pharisees took upon themselves the responsibility of deciding concerning the burdens and duties of others according to the judgment of their own carnal minds. They accepted money from persons in return for excusing them from their vows, and in some cases, crimes of an aggravated character were passed over in consideration of large sums of money paid to the authorities by the transgressor. At the same time these hypocritical priests were exact in the matter of sacrifices and ceremonies, as if it were possible for cold forms to blot out the unrepented sins of their daily lives.

The Lord said unto Samuel, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and in sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” No outward service, even in that which is required by God can be a substitute for an obedient life. The Creator desires heart service of his creatures.

God has said through Hosea, “For I desired mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant; there have they dealt treacherously against me.” The many sacrifices of the Jews and the flowing of blood to atone for sins for which they felt no true repentance was ever repugnant to God. He spoke through Micah saying, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doeth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Costly gifts and a semblance of holiness cannot win the favor of God. He requires for his mercies a contrite spirit, a heart open to the light of truth, love and compassion for our fellow men and a spirit refusing to be bribed through avarice or self-love. The priests and rulers were destitute for these essentials to God’s favor, and their most precious gifts and gorgeous ceremonies were an abomination in his eyes.

The Pharisees built expensive monuments to the dead prophets, pretending to deplore the sins of their fathers in rejecting, persecuting and slaying the chosen servants of God. At the same time they were burning with rage against the greatest prophet the world had ever seen, simply because he revealed and reproved their sins. They not only manifested the same spirit of hatred which had actuated their fathers, but were doing ten-fold worse than they in opposing and plotting against the divine Son of God.

These men whom Jesus exposed in so unsparing a manner should be a warning to those who reject the light of truth. They had gone step by step into darkness, rejecting the evidences that Jesus was the true Messiah, until the obscurity of their minds was so great that they called righteousness sin and sin righteousness. They evinced the same malice that actuated Satan against Christ in heaven, and for the same reason, because of the superior goodness of the Son of God. They were indeed the children of Satan. They condemned the acts of their forefathers in persecuting the prophets, and assumed to be the representatives of those holy men of God who died for their faith; they built the tombs of the prophets and garnished their sepulchers, and said one to another, If we had lived in those days we should not have been partakers with those who shed the blood of God’s servants, yet at the same time they were planning to destroy the Son of God, and would not have hesitated to imbrue their hands in his blood if they had not feared the people.

The condition of the Pharisees should be a lesson to the Christian world of the present day. It should open their eyes to the power of Satan to deceive human minds when they once turn from the precious light of truth, and yield to the control of the enemy. Many who make exalted professions today are following in the track of the Pharisees. They zealously cherish the memory of the prophets, even as the Pharisees were zealous in building and decorating their tombs. They declare that, had they lived in the days when Christ was upon the earth, they would have gladly received his teachings and obeyed them. But if these very persons had been placed in a similar position with the Jews, they would have done no better than they who crucified the Saviour.

Unpopular truth is no more acceptable to Pharisaical, self-righteous hearts today than when Christ walked the earth, a man among men.

If Christians were to be tested now as were the Jews at the first advent of Christ, few would accept him wrapped in his garment of humanity, living a life of humiliation and poverty. The Christian world can accept Messiah as a King at the right hand of God in heaven, but their hearts reject a Saviour of humility and self-sacrifice; they shrink from the cross of Christ, even as did the haughty Pharisees. Few indeed imitate the example of Jesus, and follow his teachings in their daily lives. He has exhorted his disciples to follow in his foot-steps. Many are in as great blindness concerning the plan of salvation as were the Pharisees, who professed obedience to God while they rejected Him who came to work out their salvation, that their efforts to gain a righteous character should have virtue with God through the sinner’s Advocate and substitute.

If man sacrifices righteous principles and truth because he can thus avoid persecution and trial in this life, he may obtain the friendship of the world, but will lose the favor of God. He barters his eternal welfare for trifling considerations. But he that obeys the requirements of Christ, neither looking nor planning for his own convenience, preferring even to sacrifice his temporal life rather than turn from the light of truth will secure the reward of the future immortal life. Jesus has said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”

Jenny @ 6:42 pm