By Theodore Carcich
Once Christians were ridiculed, oppressed, and persecuted. Often they were tortured, and put to death. However, the devil found that such methods rather than destroying, caused the church to grow.
Baffled, the devil sought and perfected a new strategy. Judging from past experiences in church, he could have counseled his angels as follows: "Don't destroy Christians, and particularly Adventists. Just keep them so busy talking to one another that they have no time to talk to the unbelieving world. Load them with burdens to correct one another theologically and organizationally, so they will never get to preaching the everlasting gospel. Goad them into questioning their leadership, past and present. Promote distrust, suspicion, and jealousy, so that their time is occupied in answering charges and counter-charges. If you cannot stop them with persecution, then do so by instilling a critical and argumentative spirit among them. This is the best way to blunt their witness.
The foregoing, of course, is an opinion based on observation, but the following is a startling statement, based on inspiration: "The spirit can never be poured out while variance and bitterness toward one another are cherished by the members of the church. Envy, jealousy, evil surmising, and evil speaking are of Satan and they effectually bar the way against the Holy Spirit's working. Nothing else in this world is so dear to God as His church. Nothing is guarded by Him with such jealous care. Nothing so offends God as an act that injures the influence of those who are doing His service. He will call to account all who aid Satan in his work of criticizing and discouraging." Testimonies, Vol. 6. p. 42. (Italics supplied.)
Is there any remedy for those who have succumbed to the enemy's strategy? There is! We read: "Many who have lived so long in one place are spending their time criticizing those who are working in Christ's lines to convict and convert sinners. They criticize the motives and intentions of others, as if it were not possible for anyone else to do the unselfish work they themselves refuse to do. They are stumbling blocks. If they would go to places where there are no believers and work to win souls to Christ they would soon be so busy proclaiming the truth and helping the suffering that they would have no time to dissect character, no time to surmise evil and then report the results of their supposed keenness in seeing beneath the surface.
"Let those who have lived so long in places where there are large churches of believers go out into the harvest field to sow and reap for the Master. They will forget self in the desire to save souls. They will see so much work to do, so many fellow beings to help, that they will have no time to look for faults in others." -- Ibid. Vol. 8, Pp. 82, 83.
Indeed, there are times when the individual church member finds himself the object of Satan's venomous attacks. How should he relate himself to false reports and rumors?
First of all, if wrongly accused, keep silent. Do not retaliate for to do so means descending to the level of your accuser. The rumormonger is simply a tool in the hands of the devil to divert you from your work and to destroy your confidence in your church and your fellow church members. Do not panic because the lion roars. Do not stop to stone the devil's dogs or to chase his rabbits. Keep at your task.
Stay by your God-given assignment. Stay in the church. Don't leave. If you do, the devil triumphs. Let others quarrel and accuse, but keep your hands busy for God. Let Satan and his agents do their worst, but see to it that nothing stops you from witnessing for Christ.
God has not given us the responsibility of defending our character, nor the fruitless task of disproving the falsehoods that Satan and his assistants may originate and peddle. If we did these things we would never accomplish anything and we would be working for Satan, not God.
Once Christians were ridiculed, oppressed, and persecuted. Often they were tortured and put to death. However, the devil found that such methods rather than destroying, caused the church to grow. Lev 19:16) Heeding this counsel and working for the salvation of others is God's effective method of upsetting Satan's strategy.
Review. January 25, 1968 Vol. 145 No. 4. p. 10