8. The Delusion of Finding Fault

By John Thiel, Removing Delusions and Fallacies Series, mp3

Scripture reading: Psalm 15:1 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. 3 [He that] backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

We need the Lord, don’t we? So very much, and especially as we discover the sad delusions that have operated in our lives in the past and that God calls upon us to put away. One of the sources of decay in church fellowship is identified in the Spirit of Prophecy as the spirit of fault-finding. This creates a tremendous stress in the relationships in God’s family, which is still in need of being perfected. In my search to expose the delusions that have to be put away, this is one of those that came to my attention.

Let those who have been deluded give up all their fallacies. {20MR 307.5}

We are called upon to put away the delusions and fallacies.

Are you individually daily preparing that you can unite with the family of heaven? {HP 227.5}

Are we preparing? Is this our objective? Then the question is:

Are you quarrelsome here? Are you finding fault with your household here? If you are, you will find fault with them in heaven. Your character is being tested and proved in this life, whether you will make a peaceable subject of God’s kingdom in heaven. {Ibid.}

This statement has been circulating around in my mind over the years. If I find fault with anyone here on this earth, especially among the family of God, I will find fault with them in heaven. It causes a little summersault in my inner brain. How can you find fault with people in heaven? But if we haven’t learned to cast off fault-finding here on earth, we will then also continue that in heaven. But how can you find fault with heavenly perfection? Therefore my mind in prayer came to the conclusion that fault-finding must then be a delusion. You can be so deluded about the things you see in people around you that you think what you see is a fault, when in reality it is not. This is a delusion. It is a delusion so strong that you could actually find fault with someone perfect.

I saw that all the religion a few poor souls have consists in watching the garments and acts of others, and finding fault with them. Unless they reform, there will be no place in heaven for them, for they would find fault with the Lord Himself. {1T 145.1}

If I don’t put away this attitude of finding fault, I will find fault with the Lord Himself. But the Lord is a perfect being; how can I find fault with Him? I can if I don’t put away this fault-finding mentality. If you could find fault with the Lord in heaven, then it is a delusion.

…when persons have so much care of others’ faults, they take no care of themselves. These notional, faultfinding ones would often cure themselves of the habit if they would go directly to the individual they think is wrong. It would be so crossing that they would give up their notions rather than go. But it is easy to let the tongue run freely about this one or that one when the accused is not present. {1T 145.2}

What is the operative word here that suggests a delusion? “These notional, faulfinding ones”. A notion is something that pertains to an opinion you have that has no backing. There is no truth behind it; therefore a notion can be a delusion. To find fault in my fellow beings, to hold this kind of personality trait, is actually a delusion that I must put away.

We want to go through an exploration of God’s word to find motivation to remove this fallacy, this delusion, this notion; to let the intelligent mind be illuminated by the word; to let His Holy Spirit help us to appreciate that we have to put this away.

God’s Thoughts

We worship a being who sees all things as they really are. His thoughts and His ways of seeing things are totally different to how we see them.

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:

His thoughts, let alone his ways.

Isaiah 55:7 …and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

This is the being whom we worship, someone who can say to us, You are right down in the lowlands of morass, and everything you see is different to the way I see it. Your thoughts are different to my thoughts. We want to let Him illuminate us. This is speaking of Jesus:

Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 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; 3 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:

It is a wonderful comfort to my inmost soul that I have a Jesus who is my personal Saviour and who doesn’t judge by what He sees or hears. He judges righteous judgments; He judges things that we do not perceive as to what actually is going on in all reality. He is the one whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, because He relies on the one who is His and our Father.

As we fellowship together and as we see each other, as we observe each other’s action, each other’s dress, each other’s eating habits, and so many different things in our lives, we discover that there are certain things in another person that are strange to us. As we observe each other we depend on our visual and auditory perceptions; and we make judgments from that background. But Jesus is different. He sees something and He doesn’t make a judgment from what He sees; He hears something and He doesn’t make a judgment from what He hears. He judges differently. It is He, through His Father, that sees beyond the visual and auditory senses. What does He do? He reads the heart, the hidden things that we cannot read in each other.

Condemning the Guiltless

While there are words and actions that we may deem as faulty in another person, God may see it completely differently, because He knows what is behind the scenes of what He sees and hears. We have a wonderful description of Jesus demonstrating this, by which we can see this principle. The Pharisees had just seen Jesus and His disciples walking through the cornfield on the Sabbath day and plucking the ears of corn to eat.

Matthew 12:2 But when the Pharisees saw [it], they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

What were they doing? They were picking faults on the disciples. The disciples were doing something on the Sabbath. “They should’ve had their food prepared; the Sabbath day is not for getting food and picking it and eating it; that should have been prepared during the week days.” This is what they were saying.

Matthew 12:3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the showbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? 6 But I say unto you, That in this place is [one] greater than the temple. 7 But if ye had known what [this] meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.  

To all observations the disciples were guilty; they were breaking the Sabbath. To all observations David was guilty; he was not a priest. He was not even of the tribe of Levi. He was of the tribe of Judah. And he ate the showbread? Guilty. And Jesus said the priests were profaning the Sabbath. What were they doing? They were killing animals on the Sabbath day. They were doing all sorts of service on the Sabbath day. Oh, what a spoiling of the Sabbath. To all observations these were faults to the person who was looking at it as a Pharisee, as a bigoted believer in God’s law.

If it was right for David to satisfy his hunger by eating of the bread that had been set apart to a holy use, then it was right for the disciples to supply their need by plucking the grain upon the sacred hours of the Sabbath. Again, the priests in the temple performed greater labor on the Sabbath than upon other days. The same labor in secular business would be sinful; but the work of the priests was in the service of God. They were performing those rites that pointed to the redeeming power of Christ, and their labor was in harmony with the object of the Sabbath. But now Christ Himself had come. The disciples, in doing the work of Christ, were engaged in God’s service, and that which was necessary for the accomplishment of this work it was right to do on the Sabbath day. {DA 285.2}

Here we have an interesting exercise of mind. You can be a person who really believes that what David did and what the apostles did was a fault if you look at it merely from a legalistic perspective. This is where I am despairing many times: when I have shared God’s word in regard to the high standards of God’s word, to the practice of health reform and dress reform, etc., as I have done over the years, something happens in the church with that kind of teaching to the people who have first attached themselves to the message – all of a sudden the beautiful joy that was also embraced in the truth that we shared, suddenly turns sour in the fellowship. People begin to notice things that they hadn’t noticed before, because they weren’t so strict before. But now they are strict and they notice different people not doing what their strict appreciation is telling them they should do, so they begin to find fault in the church; and that faultfinding spirit takes on greater dimensions until ultimately it ends up in an atomic explosion. It separates souls. Faultfinders judged David guilty while God did not.

There was a little girl who had a poor mother; that mother didn’t have much food or provision; and to that little girl were given two apples, one for her mummy and one for her. So she came to her mummy, and the mother was glowing with happiness, My daughter is bringing me an apple! But as she stood there for a moment she watched her daughter biting one apple, and then biting the other one. The mother thought to herself, What a naughty girl! She’s bitten both apples now; she’s going to make them her own! Then the little girl looked at her mother and said, Mommy, this apple is the sweetest one, I want you to have that one.

Why did she bite the apple? Not because she was trying to have both apples for herself; but it was interpreted that way. This is another illustration that we can draw wrong conclusions and find fault with something that is not a fault at all.

What Love Does

1 Corinthians 13:5 [Love] doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Love does not go into the arena of faultfinding. It doesn’t think evil of anyone because of what they are doing. It thinketh no evil. Let the Testimony of Jesus clarify this for us:

Charity “doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” Christ-like love places the most favorable construction on the motives and acts of others. It does not needlessly expose their faults; it does not listen eagerly to unfavorable reports, but seeks rather to bring to mind the good qualities of others. {AA 319.2}

This is love. The actions and motives of others are not impugned by what we see and hear. Love places the most favourable construction on the motives and acts of others. It does not needlessly expose their faults. What does it do? It sees only good in other people; it looks for the good points, the qualities; it seeks to bring to mind the good qualities of others.

As we apply this to that little girl, we see that she had a motive behind biting that apple – she wanted to give the sweetest one to her mother. David, although he was not a Levite, was in terrible trouble, and was hungry with all his men. And although Abiathar, the high priest, was killed for the action, yet God did not hold David guilty. God thinks different to us.

We need to cherish love in our hearts. We should not be ready to think evil of our brethren. We must put the least construction on what they do or what they say. We must be Bible Christians. {TDG 83.2}

Put the least construction, or put the best construction, on what they say and do.

We must learn to place the best possible construction upon doubtful conduct of others. {OHC 237.2}

What sort of conduct? “That looks doubtful! Hmm…” and we take up a reproach. For whom is kingdom of heaven?

Psalm 15:1 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? … 3 [He that] backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

He is not prepared to pick up on another person’s report about a brother. “Look at that! See his action there? That was a doubtful action!” No; the person who will find his place in heaven will not enter into the delusion of drawing conclusions about someone’s conduct in the most negative way; neither will he listen to someone telling him about something that is a faultfinding reproach. This is the person who will not find fault even with the Lord Himself, who will not find fault with those who are in heaven, because he has learned it here.

Household Friction

How easy is it to find fault, especially when we have been enlightened by the dos and don’ts of God’s will and way. I want to give a household example, because Sr. White wrote about this problem in the household. If we begin to find fault in the household and to be quarrelsome, we will find fault with them who might be in heaven. Sr. White here writes to a sister:

Many years ago some things were presented before me in vision in relation to you and your family. One year ago last June, as different families who erred in some things were presented before me, you, in connection with your husband and children, were again presented before me and I was referred back years in the past. I saw you watching your husband with a sort of jealous fear. His heart was devoted to you, yet you feared that he would think too much of others who had no claim to his affections. . . . Your fears were groundless. Yet this fear has been with you through your married life. You have passed through many hours of unnecessary suffering, scrutinizing the words and acts of your husband with a censuring mind, putting a wrong construction upon them. {UL 93.2}

Here is a household problem, the delusion of watching and finding fault with the husband. The way he was kind and courteous to other women, was a problem to her, and she scrutinised his behaviour and acts with a censuring mind, putting a wrong construction upon his acts; just like the mother in the story initially thought her child was rude in biting the apple which was hers.

Finding Fault with the Lord Himself

As we explore this delusion, the most prime example of it is the way the Pharisees were finding fault with Jesus Christ. To all appearances, to them, Jesus was an illegitimate child. Mary had been pregnant before she was married. There is a name for those children, and they believed He was one of those. According to their judgment of sight and hearing, they picked fault with Him on that one. And then, another faultfinding approach that they had with Jesus was during His childhood – Jesus was following the Bible and didn’t always agree with His teachers (they weren’t really His teachers, because His mother was His teacher; but they wanted to be), and He would not listen to their counsel.

In every gentle and submissive way, Jesus tried to please those with whom He came in contact. Because He was so gentle and unobtrusive, the scribes and elders supposed that He would be easily influenced by their teaching. They urged Him to receive the maxims and traditions that had been handed down from the ancient rabbis, but He asked for their authority in Holy Writ. He would hear every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; but He could not obey the inventions of men. Jesus seemed to know the Scriptures from beginning to end, and He presented them in their true import. The rabbis were ashamed to be instructed by a child. They claimed that it was their office to explain the Scriptures, and that it was His place to accept their interpretation. They were indignant that He should stand in opposition to their word. {DA 85.1}

So Jesus, as a child, was being picked on. People found fault with Him because He was not submissive to His elders.

They knew that no authority could be found in Scripture for their traditions. They realized that in spiritual understanding Jesus was far in advance of them. Yet they were angry because He did not obey their dictates. Failing to convince Him, they sought Joseph and Mary, and set before them His course of noncompliance. Thus He suffered rebuke and censure. {DA 85.2} 

The leaders of the church were faultfinding; but they were deluded, because they were not correctly judging Jesus.

His brothers, as the sons of Joseph were called, sided with the rabbis. They insisted that the traditions must be heeded, as if they were the requirements of God. {DA 86.2}

Don’t people reason like that? “Oh yes, the church is God’s church; it’s God’s voice. So now the decision has been made by the church, you must obey.” And if you don’t, they’ll pick on you

They even regarded the precepts of men more highly than the word of God, and they were greatly annoyed at the clear penetration of Jesus in distinguishing between the false and the true. His strict obedience to the law of God they condemned as stubbornness. {Ibid.}

It’s a delusion, isn’t it? They condemned Him as being stubborn. But was He stubborn? Oh, it looked like it.

They were surprised at the knowledge and wisdom He showed in answering the rabbis. They knew that He had not received instruction from the wise men, yet they could not but see that He was an instructor to them. They recognized that His education was of a higher type than their own. But they did not discern that He had access to the tree of life, a source of knowledge of which they were ignorant. {Ibid.}

Here are prime examples of faultfinding even with the Lord Himself. When He said, Destroy this temple, and I will raise it in three days; what a terrible judgment they made on Him. “How dare He talk about destroying the temple of God!” Then, when He was reaching out to the publicans and the harlots, what a faultfinding attitude was manifested towards Him by the Pharisees. “He is eating and drinking with the drunken; He is doing things that are questionable.” “Look at that, He is even helping a harlot…”

Putting Away the Delusion

Can we begin to see the delusion of faultfinding? As you think about it, if that happened back then, if they could find fault with Jesus, would it be any different today?

All the religion a few poor souls have, is to watch the garments and acts of others, and find fault with them. Unless they reform, there will be no place in heaven for them, for with this spirit they would find fault with Jesus and angels. {2SG 287.1}

With that spirit people who are faultfinding today will find fault with Jesus and angels. This is really a horrifying thought. I can be so deluded that I am right in my judgment of certain brothers and sisters in the church, that, if I got to heaven with that mentality, I would have the same problem with Jesus and the angels as well. This is delusional. It is notional. And this delusional spirit of faultfinding we are told we must put away.

All differences, all fault-finding must be put away through the grace of Christ which you receive through faith. {TSA 30.1}

Do we receive the grace of Christ? Then all differences, all faultfinding must be put away.

All envy, all jealousy, all evil surmising, is of the enemy. All evil-speaking, all bitterness, all impatience, all malice, must be purged from the soul temple, and kindness, compassion, forbearance, meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, hope, love, must be cherished every day in order that you may fulfil the prayer of Christ to His Father that His disciples might be one as He is one with the Father. The harmony and the unity of the church are the credentials that must be presented to the world to prove that God has sent His Son into the world to give grace and light and truth. {Ibid.}

Credentials – this is what people are looking for, “Where is God’s church?” What are the credentials of God’s church? Here they are. They will put away all faultfinding, envy, jealousy, evil surmising, evil-speaking, all bitterness, impatience, malice; it will all be purged from the soul temple. And in their place come kindness, compassion, forbearance, meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, hope, and love; these are to be cherished while the others are thrown out.

Let us heed the revelation that we have here explored, and let us deal decidedly with the revelation of faultfinding as it begins to arise us. The moment that a faultfinding thought comes to you, put it away decidedly, and concentrate on the truth which we all espouse and bask in. This is what is to occupy our fellowship. Can you see how Satan works to destroy our appreciation of the answer to the prayer of Christ that we should all be one? We can be one; and yet that unity can also be destroyed, not because we have error on truth, but because we are faultfinding. Let us concentrate on the truth, and, in unity and love, bind together. And if there is anything that is questionable in another man’s conduct, put the least construction, or the best construction, on it, as we have learned from Jesus.

Of course the question arises, What about if a person has truly fallen into sin? Well, if we are not picking on every little detail but there is an obvious fall into corruption and sin, then that is not just faulfinding; that is an obvious thing which we are to deal with by following God’s instruction – we are told to restore such a person. But this is different to a faultfinding spirit.

Let us carefully examine this so that we will not permit ourselves to be torn apart, but that, on the contrary, we will cherish this beautiful spirit of Jesus that looks at David’s activity, at the disciples’ eating on the Sabbath the husks of the wayside farm, and sees differently to the way in which we are in danger of seeing. God grant us the ability to do this by His Holy Spirit.


(Painting: Jesus Among The Doctors by James Tissot (1836-1902). Public Domain)

Posted on 15/12/2017, in Divine Service Sermons, Removing Delusions and Fallacies (Series) and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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