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Follow Christian Methods in Dealing with the Erring
Biblical Counsel on Solving Church Difficulties
Manuscript Release # 1158
.  .  . I have frequently been instructed to have a special charge over some who were in danger through special temptations. There are many who have weak points of character. I am instructed that when they shall be overtaken in a fault, and overcome, I am not to leave them to the unadvised words or unchristlike methods of those who have not the love and pity and grace of Christ in their hearts.  {15MR 168.1}
Those who can see the weakness and mark the faults of an erring one have a special responsibility to try to help him. If they push him off and crowd him away, I am to hold out to him the hand of hope, that he may grasp it, and never let go. I am to say to him. Never be discouraged. I am to tell him of his mistakes manifesting the kindest sympathy. Thus a soul may be saved, and a multitude of sins hidden; for if he confesses his faults, the Lord will pardon him. And from his own experience he will learn how to deal with others who make mistakes.  {15MR 168.2}
In dealing with the erring, Christ showed tender, forgiving love, and we are to practice the lessons He has given.  {15MR 168.3}
When Christ ate with publicans and sinners, the priest and rulers made all the capital possible out of his action. But Christ did this that He might speak to erring men the words of encouragement that the priests and rulers were not willing to speak. He would satisfy the inmost longings of the soul, and help the sore-troubled ones, who needed guidance and encouragement. His words were always spoken with wisdom. They always exalted the truth. He presented principles that searched the recesses of the hearts of those who listened. He said that which reached the diseased imagination, and drew the mind out after eternal realities. . . .  {15MR 168.4}
In church capacity there are many things that we must do if we would be laborers together with God. If we would study Christ's methods, we would see many things to be reproved and corrected. But in doing this, we are to be sure to follow Christ's methods. Christ fellowship reveals duties to be performed and responsibilities to be borne. In all we are to follow Christ's example. In failing to deal faithfully with one who has erred, in refusing to speak kindly to him, we commit a grievous sin in the sight of God. In acting a harsh, stubborn part, in treating the one has made a mistake in accordance with our own unchristlike traits of character, we may discourage a soul that is in danger, and leave him to settle down into spiritual dwarfage, or to relapse into spiritual death.  {15MR 169.1}
A disregard of Christ's directions as to how to deal with the erring leads to contention and strife. A desire to cast a mote out of the eye of a brother often creates a beam in the eye of the accuser, because of his neglect or refusal to work in Christ's way.  {15MR 169.2}
If the directions of Christ, so explicitly given in His lessons to His disciples, are not followed, if church members engage in accusing and condemning their brethren and sisters, refusing to heed the words of the Saviour, serious estrangements will come into the church as the result.  {15MR 169.3}
Christ says, "First cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." The one who neglects to follow the directions of Christ, who accuses his brother without first going to him and talking the matter over with him, in the spirit of the Saviour, has a beam in his eye. He pays no attention to the remedy that Christ has given for the cure of dissension and strife. He does not go to the one he has condemned, telling him kindly what appears to be against his character. An explanation might clear away the difficulty, but he does not give the one he condemns an opportunity to make the explanation.  {15MR 170.1}
It is now time that we heeded the lessons of Christ, learning from him how to proceed in wisdom in dealing with the erring. The Saviour pities the one who does wrong, and in love corrects him, and, if he confesses and forsakes his sin, forgives him. Christ cannot save the purchase of His blood without, through reproof and correction, administering His discipline. This is necessary for the safety of the church, for the preservation of a wholesome atmosphere in the church. But He sees the danger of unwise judgment, and he gives the following injunctions: [Matt. 7:1-5, quoted].  {15MR 170.2}
To make His people perfect, the Lord points out their mistakes and dangers. If they give no heed to His words, He permits the sure consequence of wrongdoing to come upon them. But He does not forsake them and turn from them, unless they are willfully stubborn. If after reproof on reproof has been sent to them, they still refuse to reform, He says, "Separate them from the church, lest others be defiled; for their example is detrimental to the health of the church."  {15MR 170.3}
But let all remember the words, "First cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then thou shalt see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye." Let us not be so ready to accuse. God will make His people perfect if they will be molded and fashioned after the divine similitude. If they err, and then repent, He forgives them. His reproofs and corrections are sent to make His people perfect. Then let us accept reproof, and acknowledge our errors, and seek to avoid them.  {15MR 171.1}
No unlikeness to Christ will be permitted in the holy city. The process of gaining perfection of character is to be carried on in this life, that we may be prepared for the future immortal life. It is God's purpose that His church on earth shall reach perfection. It is essential that His directions be strictly obeyed. The members are to help and strengthen one another. No self-exaltation or accusing or harshness are to be shown in our dealings with one another. We must purify our souls through love and obedience to the truth. We must act like saints toward one another. We must purify our souls through love and obedience to the truth. We must act like saints toward one another, preparing ourselves, drilling ourselves, to be without fault in character, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. -- Letter 67, 1905, pp. 2-7. (Written February 18, 1905, from St. Helena, California, to Brethren and Sisters.)   {15MR 171.2}
MR No. 1159  -  Treatment of the Erring
   The Scriptures speak plainly in regard to the course to be pursued toward the erring: "Ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."  {15MR 172.1}
To convince one of his errors is a most delicate work; for, through constant exercise, certain modes of acting or thinking become second nature; through habit a moral taste is created; and it is very hard for those who err to see their errors. Many are blind to faults in themselves which are plainly discerned by others. There is always hope of repentance and reformation in one who recognizes his faults. But some are too proud to confess that they are in the wrong, even when their errors are plainly pointed out and they see them. In a general way they will admit that they are human, liable to err; but they expect others to trust them as if they were unerring. Such confessions count nothing with God.  {15MR 172.2}
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." "Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." "I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquities have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord: and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."  {15MR 172.3}
It is not safe to do as did Saul--walk contrary to the Lord's commandments and then say, "I have performed the commandment of the Lord," stubbornly refusing to confess the sin of disobedience. Saul's stubbornness made his case hopeless. We see that others are following his example. The Lord sends words of reproof in mercy to save them, but they will not submit to be corrected. They insist that they have done no wrong, thus resisting the Spirit of God. The Lord declares through Samuel, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken, than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king." The stubborn heart is thus presented in the case of Saul to warn every soul who is in danger of doing as he did.  {15MR 173.1}
It is very discouraging to labor for this class. If their wrong course is pointed out to them as being dangerous both to themselves and to others, they try to excuse it by laying the blame on circumstances, or leaving others to suffer the censure which justly belongs to them. They are filled with indignation that anyone should regard them as sinners. The one who reproves them is looked upon as having done them a personal injury.  {15MR 173.2}
 And yet these very ones who are so blind to their own faults are often quick to perceive the faults of another, quick to criticize his words, and condemn him for something he did or neglected to do. They do not realize that their own errors may be much more grievous in the sight of God. They are like the man represented by Christ as seeking to pull a mote out of his brother's eye while he had a beam in his own eye. The Spirit of God makes manifest and reproves the sins that lie hidden, concealed in darkness, sins which if cherished will increase, and ruin the soul; but those who think themselves above reproof resist the influence of the Spirit of God. In their efforts to correct others they do not manifest patience, kindness, and respect. They do not show an unselfish spirit, the tenderness and love of Jesus. They are sharp, rasping and positively wicked in their words and spirit.  {15MR 173.3}
Every unkind criticism of others, every thought of self-esteem, is "the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity." This lifting up of self in pride, as if you were faultless, and magnifying the faults of others, is offensive to God. It is breaking His law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." "Be kindly affectioned one toward another." We have no right to withdraw our confidence from a brother because of some evil report, some accusation or supposition of wrong. Frequently the report is made by those who are at enmity with God, those who are doing the enemy's work as accusers of the brethren.  {15MR 174.1}
Someone not so mindful as he should have been of Christ's words, "Take heed how ye hear," allowed his unsanctified ears to hear wrong, his perverted senses to imagine wrong, and his evil tongue to report wrong. Many a man will not come openly to talk with the one he thinks in error, but will go to others, and under the mask of friendship and sympathy for the erring, he will cast reflections. Sometimes he openly agrees with the one whom he covertly seeks to injure. Suppositions are stated as facts, without giving the person charged with wrong a clear, definite statement of his supposed errors, and without giving him a chance to answer the charges. This is all contrary to the teaching of Christ. It is the subtle way in which Satan always works. {15MR 174.2}
Those who do such things have set themselves up as judges through admitting evil thoughts. One who engages in this work communicates to his hearers a measure of his own spirit of darkness and unbelief; his evil surmisings sow in their minds the seeds of bitterness and suspicion toward one whom God has delegated to do a certain work. If they think one makes a mistake, it is seized upon, magnified, and reported to others, and thus many are led to take up the reproach against their neighbor. They watch eagerly for all that is wrong, and close their eyes to, and are unable to appreciate, all that is commendable and righteous.  {15MR 175.1}
Through this acceptance of hearsay evidence the enemy obtains great advantage in councils and committee meetings. Those who would stand for the right, if they knew what it was, have to wade about in the foul pools of evil surmisings, because they are misled by the surmisings of someone in whom they have confidence. Their prayers are hindered, their faith is paralyzed, and unkind thoughts, unholy suspicions, come in to do their work of alienation among brethren. God is dishonored, souls are imperiled.  {15MR 175.2}
When an effort is made to ascertain the truth in regard to matters that have been represented as wrong, those who have been the accusers are frequently unwilling even to grant the accused the benefit of a doubt as to the reliability of the evil reports. They seem determined that things shall be just as they have stated them, and they treat the accused as guilty without giving them a chance to explain or state the truth of the case. When there is manifested a spirit of such fierce determination to make a brother or sister an offender, and the accusers cannot be made to see or feel that their own course has been wrong, what does this show? -- that the transforming power of the enemy has been upon them, and their character reflects his attributes.  {15MR 175.3}
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Published by Ellen G. White Estate, Washington, D.C. October 8, 1985

Also consider quotes about Christ's manner of dealing with the erring
From Christ’s manner of dealing with the erring we may learn profitable lessons which are equally applicable to this work of confession. He bids us go to the one who has fallen into temptation, and labor with him alone. If it is not possible to help him, because of the darkness of his mind and his separation from God, we are to try again with two or three others. If the wrong is not righted, then, and only then, we are to tell it to the church. It is far better if wrongs can be righted and injuries healed without bringing the matter before the whole church. The church is not to be made the receptacle for the outpouring of every complaint or confession. { 5T 646.2} 

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