We are all familiar with the story in the Bible of Ely and his sons. Ely was a
doting father who did not discipline, reprove, or rebuke sins in the lives of his sons, much to
the displeasure of God. Retribution came all too soon. There was a battle with the
Philistines. Israel was defeated, and the Ark of God was taken. Both Ely's sons were
killed in this battle. Upon hearing the news of his sons' death, Ely fell over, broke his neck and died.
We do not want to follow in the footsteps of Ely in not disciplining and
correcting his sons, do we? Instead, we want to follow the counsel in Isaiah, Chapter 58
to "cry aloud and spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show my people their
transgressions and the House of Judah their sins."
But how do we cry aloud and spare not? How do we rebuke sin in the camp? We
simply follow the example of Jesus Christ. We look to Him for He is our Pattern. In this
discourse we will learn how Jesus rebuked sins when He was here on earth.
Jesus was the embodiment of truth and perfection. He was God in human form. His
nature recoiled at sin. He hated sin with intense hatred, but yet loved the sinner and showed
mercy, pity, compassion and tenderness to him.
There's a prophecy in Isaiah concerning Jesus Christ. It's found in
Chapter 11, verses 1-3. "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a
branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit
of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of
the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he
shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears..."
Notice the last part of the above texts--"He shall not judge after the sight of
his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears..." What does this mean and when was
this best fulfilled in the life of Christ? In John, Chapter 8, we find the story of Mary Magdalene
who was caught in the act of adultery. She was brought to Jesus. Her accusers, the church leaders
of the time, told Jesus that the woman violated the Seventh Commandment and caught in the very
act. "What do say about this, Jesus?" they inquired. Jesus saw the woman with his eyes; he heard
the scribes and Pharisees with their accusations with His ears, but yet, Jesus did not judge
the woman with the sight of his eyes nor the hearing of his ears, just as the prophecy said He
In the book Desire of Ages, Page 462, we read: "In the act of pardoning this woman and encouraging her to live a better
life, the character of Jesus shines forth in the beauty of perfect righteousness."
The character of Jesus shines forth in perfect righteousness when He did not judge the woman after the sight of His eyes or the hearing of His ears. Likewise, our character will shine forth in perfect righteousness when we do not judge after the sight of our
eyes or the hearing of our ears. To have righteous characters we need to follow the Branch,
Jesus Christ, who did not judge the weaknesses of the sinners He came to save.
Continuing with Desire of Ages: "While He does not palliate sin, nor lessen the
sense of guilt, He seeks not to condemn, but to save. The world had for this erring woman
only contempt and scorn; but Jesus speaks words of comfort and hope. The Sinless One pities
the weakness of the sinner, and reaches to her a helping hand. While the hypocritical Pharisees
denounce, Jesus bids her, "Go, and sin no more."
The non-judgmental attitude and spirit of Jesus is seen again in His treatment
of His disciple Thomas. Again, in the book, Desire of Ages, Page 808, we read: "In his
treatment of Thomas Jesus gave a lesson for his followers. His example shows how we should
treat those whose faith is weak, and who make their doubts prominent. Jesus did not overwhelm
Thomas with reproach nor did he enter into controversy with him. He revealed himself to the
doubting one. Thomas had been most unreasonable in dictating the conditions of his faith, but
Jesus, by his generous love and consideration, broke down all the barriers. Unbelief is seldom
overcome by controversy. It is rather put upon self defense, and finds new support and excuse.
But let Jesus, in His love and mercy, be revealed as the crucified Saviour, and from many once
unwilling lips will be heard the acknowledgment of Thomas, "My Lord and my God!"
Again, this non-judgmental attitude and spirit of Jesus is seen in His dealings
with Simon the Leper. As Christ was in his house and Mary Magdalene was anointing his feet and
kissing them, Simon was questioning in his mind whether Christ was indeed a prophet. If He were,
He wouldn't have anything to do with this filthy woman. The Bible tells us that Christ read his thoughts, didn't it? And what did Christ do? Did He openly rebuke Simon before all the guests? No! And the result was positive, wasn't it? Read the account in Desire of Ages, Page 567,568, "Simon was touched by the kindness of Jesus in not openly rebuking him before the guests. He had not been treated as he desired Mary to be treated.. He saw that Jesus did not wish to expose his guilt to others, but sought by a true statement of the case to convince his mind, and by pitying kindness subdue his heart. Stern denunciation would have hardened Simon against repentance, but patient admonition convinced him of his error."
Are we seeking to expose the errors of our brethren to others? Christ never did.
It was Christ's attitude and spirit that caused Simon to receive the reproof given to him in an
object lesson whereas open rebuke and stern denunciation will have hardened him against the
truth. It would be our attitude and spirit that would cause the erring ones in our midst to
receive the reproof given and to go and sin no more.
The devotional book, Upward Look, Page 59, says: "Angels take note of our works,
of our words, of the spirit which actuates us. Those who desire to reform others must begin
the reformation in their own hearts, and show that they have acquired kindliness and humility of
heart in the school of Christ. Those who have charge of others must learn first to master
themselves, to refrain from blunt expressions and exaggerated censure. There are cutting
words which are indulged in, which may often, hurt, and leave upon a soul a scar which will
remain. There are sharp words that fall as sparks upon an inflammable temper. There are biting
words that bite like vipers."
A most fitting counsel is found in Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings, Page 128
and 129. "No one has ever been reclaimed from a wrong position by censure and reproach; but many
have thus been driven from Christ and led to seal their hearts against conviction. A tender
spirit, a gentle, winning deportment, may save the erring and hide a multitude of sins. The
revelation of Christ in your own character will have a transforming power upon all with whom
you come in contact. Not until you feel that you could sacrifice your own self-dignity, and
even lay down your life in order to save an erring brother, have you cast the beam out of your
own eye so that you are prepared to help your brother."
Christ's character shone forth in the beauty of perfect righteousness when He
did not judge sinners. He is our example. He is our Pattern. Before we can carry out the
command in Isa. 58 to "cry aloud and spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show my
people their sins" we need to look upon Christ and emulate Him in His gentleness, tactfulness,
compassion, mercy and love when dealing with the erring.
--Taken from campmeeting notes of sermon by James Rafferty.