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This is a commentary on the article:-


The Character of God

The balance between Justice and Mercy




Also available as a "Word"  or   PDF  version.

The author of the above-mentioned article agrees that it is sin which kills after the close of the world’s probation, but he maintains that before that time God often causes a nation or an individual to die by unilaterally withdrawing His protection from them. 

He also claims that for God to remove a person or persons from His protection is an act of love! 

The central point of the article is that God deliberately chooses to do this in execution of a judgment.  But it is written, “.  .  .  it is appointed unto men once to die, but AFTER THIS the judgment.  .  .”  Hebrews 9:27.  So let’s have a look at it.  I do not intend to debate this doctrine any further, but present this simply as an alternative view which can be accepted or rejected as the individual chooses.  (In the following quotes the red emphasis is mine, as are the blue insertions.  I have also separated the paragraphs and some sentences to make easier reading.)  

The article, page 2, paras 14-16. 

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Sin is like cancer, it brings death (James 1:15).  God is the One who is trying to save us from sin/death.  When a man is holding to sin, it becomes like the cancer inside the kidney, and that man is the agent through which this cancer/sin is spreading.  [To others?]

If sometimes God has to surgically remove that man, or that part of the spiritual body, like when He surgically removed Korah and his followers out of the camp of the Israelites, why should we consider this act cruel? Was God the destroyer, or was it sin that was in them?

Of course it was the sin/cancer that was inside that particular part of the spiritual body that destroyed man. 

And the act of removing that sinner was an action that love must perform.

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The author appears to believe that a man or a woman

is only a part of a whole, and as such, is disposable!


We continue further down on the same page:

The article, page 2, paras 23-24.

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You see the ‘God does not kill’ doctrine when studied carefully teaches you that God is the Judge, but He can not execute the judgment.  He is too righteous to execute His own judgments.  God’s law says “the wages of sin is death” but God is too righteous to execute death on the sinner, so He just leaves him and sin will do the work of destruction.

[That is absolutely correct.]

In other words, it is sin that kills you and not God.  (Keep in mind, sin is always the cause of death; however we are not dealing with the cause of the death, but with the way it is executed in certain cases.)

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It should be noted that the author maintains

 that this occurs “in certain cases”, therefore not always?


The article, page 7, paras 72-73.  (while discussing what we believe)

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Then in chapters 9 & 10 [1 Samuel] He gives them a king.  So what is drawn from this story is that God’s plan was for the Israelites not to have a king other than Him, but because they wanted one, He gave them the best advice on which one should be their king.

That is all good and well.  But the questions that we should ask ourselves are ‘Did God set up the king or did He not? Did He give them advice or a command on who was to be their king?  Can we say that it is not God who sets up kings?’

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Of course God did it, but “why” is the question.

That question is answered in the article when divorce is mentioned.  He did it because His people had a “hardness” which He could not get through.  Who really caused the separation? – the people.

The article, pages 14-15, paras 142-152.

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Once the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked him

“Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” Matthew 19:7

If what Moses said was uninspired, or had it been wrong, this would have been a perfect opportunity for Jesus to clarify the matter.  But rather here is what Jesus had to say:

“He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Matthew 19:8, 9

It was because of the hardness of their hearts that God through Moses allowed divorce, but in the beginning it was not so (Matthew 19:4-6).

This is plan “B”, which was “forced” on Him. 

The advice was good in the circumstances, but men altered it. 

In Deuteronomy 24: 1 we find the command that Moses gave to the people regarding divorce, and in it he says “if she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement…”

“Uncleanness” Literally, “nakedness,” and figuratively, as here, “shame” or “dishonor.” Her offense could not have been adultery, for that was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 22:22).  It was simply some behavior the husband considered improper or disgraceful.  The Jews understood this Mosaic precept to mean that a man might divorce his wife for almost any reason (Matthew 19:3, 7).  Christ explained, however, that it was not God’s will for divorce to be thus easily obtained (Matthew 19:4–6), and that this provision had been made only because of the “hardness” of their hearts (Matthew 19:8).

At the time of the incarnation the Jews used to divorce their wives for any reason.  Sister White tells us the following:

“Wrong sentiments in regard to marriage had found a place in the minds of the teachers of Israel.  They were making of none effect the sacred institution of marriage.  Man was becoming so hardhearted that he would for the most trivial excuse separate from his wife, or, if he chose, he would separate her from the children and send her away.  This was considered a great disgrace and was often accompanied by the most acute suffering on the part of the discarded one.  Christ came to correct these evils, and His first miracle was wrought on the occasion of the marriage.  Thus He announced to the world that marriage when kept pure and undefiled is a sacred institution.” {AH 341}

Christ corrected this evil that was practiced by the Jews by clarifying to them the importance of marriage and God’s perfect will regarding it.  Keep in mind, yes it was not God’s perfect will to allow divorce, but nonetheless, He was the One who gave instructions regarding the bill of divorcement.  At the time when it was given to them, they were not in a condition to understand His perfect love and the forgiveness that He wanted them to practice.

But when Christ came it was time for them to understand the truth and He revealed to them the perfect will of God, and in the same time did not deny that God did allow it in the past.  All that Christ said is ‘because of the hardness of your fathers hearts when they came out of Egypt, God through Moses allowed the divorce, it was a special provision made for them then and there, but not as you have taken it as a license to abuse and use any excuse to divorce, the only valid excuse in God’s eyes is adultery, this is the way that it should have been and should now be.”

With this understanding we can harmonize both, what Moses said and what Jesus said, for both of them came from the same source: God.

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In the same way, He sets up kings, and does many other things.


Let’s now look at killing.

The article, page 15, paras 153-156.

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Eye for eye:

We have to understand that the judgments that were given in Exodus 21…etc are civil statutes.  These were the laws that the judges in Israel were supposed to follow.  None were justified in avenging themselves, for they had the words of the Lord: "Say not thou, I will recompense evil." "Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me." "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth." "If he that hateth thee be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.” Proverbs 20:22; 24:29, 17; 25:21, 22, R.V., margin.  The whole earthly life of Jesus was a manifestation of this principle. 

"If you have seen Me, you have seen My Father".

The words that Jesus spoke were a reiteration of the teaching of the Old Testament.  His words were not said for the judges but for individuals.  What I mean is “love your enemies”, “whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” ..etc were given to the individual people to live by and to forgive each other, but not for judges to judge the nation by.

The principle behind “eye for eye” is still valid.  If you kill someone the judge in the court will put you in jail or give you the punishment of death [after a trial] as they still do in some countries.  If you steal you will go to jail.  But us as followers of Christ, as individuals, we are to forgive each other, and turn the other cheek. 

If I was a victim and someone did something wrong to me I would forgive him because I am a follower of Christ.  But when I am seated in the court as a judge I can not tell the offended person to turn his other cheek because Christ said so.  No, in the court the law will take its course. 

But outside the court, as individuals, we are to forgive [after killing them].

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In this quote it is clear again that execution (which is legalised murder) cannot take place until AFTER a judgment.  (Murder is the act of deliberately taking another person’s life against that person’s will.)

In God’s kingdom, after a trial the witnesses had to throw the first stones, then all the population joined in.  “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.  The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people.  So you shall put the evil away from among you”.  Deuteronomy 17:6-7.

I believe that the author comprehends our position

but does not agree with it because of a fundamental flaw in his understanding. 

It may be that he has heard the doctrine from one who does not see the whole picture.


The article, page 10, paras 97-100.

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So as you can see, the statement that God does not do evil is correct, but still this does not mean that God does not kill or destroy.

5.  God deals with the sinner by withdrawing His protection from Him and allowing calamities to come upon him.  This is the only way He deals with sin for He does not and can not change

Here is where this whole doctrine stems from.  Though it is true, that one of God’s methods in dealing with sinners is withdrawing His presence and protection, and as a result calamities will happen, yet the mistake that is being made in here is that they take a ‘method’ and turn it into a ‘principle’.

Where these brethren have gone wrong is they have looked at the passages and examples in the Bible where God did deal with sin and sinners by withdrawing His protection and allowing calamites to come upon them from Satan and their enemies, and concluded that since God acted this way in here, He must act like this in every other case.

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Our stand is, “ .  .  .  He has said, ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you’.”  Hebrews 13:5.  Therefore He does not “withdraw”; it is us who must leave Him.                                        

One last thought:  God does not use death as a weapon to punish because death is His enemy.  It is written, “For He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death”.  1 Corinthians 15:25-26.


At the end of the article the author quoted from a vision in the SofP. 

Let’s look carefully at this picture:  Again all the red emphasis is mine, as are the comments in blue.  I have also separated some portions of the quote to emphasise them.



{Vol.  1 Spirit of Prophecy pp.  329.1 – 330.2}


 E.  G.  White

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A family picture was presented before me:

A part of the children seem anxious to learn and obey the requirements of the father, while the others trample upon his authority, and seem to exult in showing contempt of his family government.  They share the benefits of their father's house, and are constantly receiving of his bounty; they are wholly dependent upon him for all they receive, yet are not grateful, but conduct themselves proudly,

as though all the favors they received of their indulgent parent

were supplied by themselves. 

There is a split in the church/nation, or whatever.

The father notices all the disrespectful acts of his disobedient, ungrateful children, yet he bears with them.  {1SP 329.1}

The Father does nothing about it for a while.

At length, these rebellious children go still further, and seek to influence and lead to rebellion those members of their father's family who have hitherto been faithful.  Then all the dignity and authority of the father is called into action; and he expels from his house the rebellious children, who have not only abused his love and blessings themselves, but tried to subvert the remaining few who had submitted to the wise and judicious laws of their father's household.  {1SP 329.2}

When they exert undue influence on the loyal ones the Father EXPELS them from His house/church.  (In religious circles it’s called disfellowshipping.)  It may, or may not be, a close of probation for the individual or group.

For the sake of the few who are loyal, whose happiness was exposed to the seditious influence of the rebellious members of his household, he separates his undutiful children from his family, while at the same time he labors to bring the remaining faithful and loyal ones closer to himself.  All would honor the wise and just course of such a parent, in punishing most severely his undutiful, rebellious children.  {1SP 329.3}

God has dealt thus with his children. 

This is the MOST SEVERE punishment that God dishes out.

Let’s look at how it works.

Revelation 12:7-9

And there was war in heaven [God fights with words]: Michael and His angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not [they refused God’s pleas]; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was CAST OUT, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was CAST OUT into the earth, and his angels WERE CAST OUT with him.  [How did this happen?]

Jude 1:6

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but LEFT their own habitation, He has [p]reserved in everlasting chains under darkness to the judgment of the great day. 

Rather than kill them He keeps them alive, to wreak their horrors. 

Because of this He blames Himself all through the Scriptures.  Therefore the word of God is true, but it needs to be interpreted through His character.  As the author writes on page 10, para 109, “The cross was a perfect and complete revelation of the way God deals with sin”.  Rather than kill the sinners, He killed Himself!  “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers [and sisters]”.  1 John 3:16.

God “expels” but HOW does He do it?


From another place we get an even clearer picture of the war of words.

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{PP 39.1 - 41.2}}

In great mercy, according to His divine character, God bore long with Lucifer.

The spirit of discontent and disaffection had never before been known in heaven.  It was a new element, strange, mysterious, unaccountable.  Lucifer himself had not at first been acquainted with the real nature of his feelings; for a time he had feared to express the workings and imaginings of his mind; yet he did not dismiss them.  He did not see whither he was drifting.  But such efforts as infinite love and wisdom only could devise, were made to convince him of his error. 

His disaffection was proved to be without cause, and he was made to see what would be the result of persisting in revolt.  Lucifer was convinced that he was in the wrong.  He saw that "the Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works" (Psalm 145:17); that the divine statutes are just, and that he ought to acknowledge them as such before all heaven. 

[Conviction followed by repentance, and then action, was required.]

Had he done this, he might have saved himself and many angels. 

He had not at that time fully cast off his allegiance to God.  Though he had LEFT his position as covering cherub, yet if he had been willing to return to God, acknowledging the Creator's wisdom, and satisfied to fill the place appointed him in God's great plan, he would have been reinstated in his office. 

The time had come for a final decision;

he must fully yield to the divine sovereignty or place himself in open rebellion.  He nearly reached the decision to return, but pride forbade him.  It was too great a sacrifice for one who had been so highly honored to confess that he had been in error, that his imaginings were false, and to yield to the authority which he had been working to prove unjust.  {PP 39.1}

It was his choice.

A compassionate Creator, in yearning pity for Lucifer and his followers, was seeking to draw them back from the abyss of ruin into which they were about to plunge.  But His mercy was misinterpreted

Lucifer pointed to the long-suffering of God as an evidence of his own superiority, an indication that the King of the universe would yet accede to his terms.  If the angels would stand firmly with him, he declared, they could yet gain all that they desired.  He persistently defended his own course, and fully committed himself to the great controversy against his Maker. 

Thus it was that Lucifer, "the light bearer," the sharer of God's glory, the attendant of His throne, by transgression became Satan, "the adversary" of God and holy beings and the destroyer of those whom Heaven had committed to his guidance and guardianship.  {PP 39.2}

He closed his probation.  And he is still alive!

Rejecting with disdain the arguments and entreaties [the words] of the loyal angels, he denounced them as deluded slaves.  The preference shown to Christ he declared an act of injustice both to himself and to all the heavenly host, and announced that he would no longer submit to this invasion of his rights and theirs. 

[Earthly justice would have executed (lynched?) him –

heavenly justice requires evidence in an open court before the universe.]

He would never again acknowledge the supremacy of Christ.  He had determined to claim the honor which should have been given him, and take command of all who would become his followers; and he promised those who would enter his ranks a new and better government, under which all would enjoy freedom.  Great numbers of the angels signified their purpose to accept him as their leader.  Flattered by the favor with which his advances were received, he hoped to win all the angels to his side, to become equal with God Himself, and to be obeyed by the entire host of heaven.  {PP 40.1}

Still the loyal angels urged him and his sympathizers to submit to God; and they set before them the inevitable result should they refuse: He who had created them could overthrow their power and signally punish their rebellious daring. 

How would He do that?  We read “how” before, “with the MOST SEVERE PUNISHMENT”.  {See 1SP 329.3 above.}

No angel could successfully oppose the law of God, which was as sacred as Himself. 

 [Because it is a picture of Himself in human terms.  See HERE for more.]

They warned all to close their ears against Lucifer's deceptive reasoning, and urged him and his followers to seek the presence of God without delay and confess the error of questioning His wisdom and authority.  {PP 40.2}

Many were disposed to heed this counsel, to repent of their disaffection, and seek to be again received into favor with the Father and His Son. 

But Lucifer had another deception ready. 

The mighty revolter now declared that the angels who had united with him had gone too far to return; that he was acquainted with the divine law, and knew that God would not forgive. 

He declared that all who should submit to the authority of Heaven would be stripped of their honor, degraded from their position. 

He didn’t mention death, for he didn’t know about it yet.

For himself, he was determined never again to acknowledge the authority of Christ.  The only course remaining for him and his followers, he said, was to assert their liberty, and gain by force the rights which had not been willingly accorded them.  {PP 40.3}

The spirit of force is the foundation of Satan’s kingdom.

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There can be no more conclusive evidence that we possess the spirit of Satan than the disposition to hurt and destroy those who do not appreciate our work, or who act contrary to our ideas.  {DA 487.3}

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Let’s get back to the picture .  .  .

So far as Satan himself was concerned, it was true that he had now gone too far to return.  But not so with those who had been blinded by his deceptions.  To them the counsel and entreaties of the loyal angels opened a door of hope; and had they heeded the warning, they might have broken away from the snare of Satan.  But pride, love for their leader, and the desire for unrestricted freedom were permitted to bear sway, and the pleadings of divine love and mercy were finally rejected.  {PP 41.1}

God permitted Satan to carry forward his work until the spirit of disaffection ripened into active revolt.  It was necessary for his plans to be fully developed, that their true nature and tendency might be seen by all. 

It would lead to death, something no one knew anything about. 

Lucifer, as the anointed cherub, had been highly exalted; he was greatly loved by the heavenly beings, and his influence over them was strong.  God's government included not only the inhabitants of heaven, but of all the worlds that He had created; and Lucifer had concluded that if he could carry the angels of heaven with him in rebellion, he could carry also all the worlds.  He had artfully presented his side of the question, employing sophistry and fraud to secure his objects.  His power to deceive was very great.  By disguising himself in a cloak of falsehood, he had gained an advantage. 

He really thought he could maintain another kingdom alongside God’s!

All his acts were so clothed with mystery that it was difficult to disclose to the angels the true nature of his work.  Until fully developed, it could not be made to appear the evil thing it was; his disaffection would not be seen to be rebellion.  Even the loyal angels could not fully discern his character or see to what his work was leading.  {PP 41.2}

There was a need of a public trial, which we call “The Judgment”,

including indictment, prosecution, defence, and then verdict.


Let’s look at some more of the “war”.

Lucifer had at first so conducted his temptations that he himself stood uncommitted. 

The angels whom he could not bring fully to his side, he accused of indifference to the interests of heavenly beings.  The very work which he himself was doing, he charged upon the loyal angels.  It was his policy to perplex with subtle arguments concerning the purposes of God.  Everything that was simple he shrouded in mystery, and by artful perversion cast doubt upon the plainest statements of Jehovah.  And his high position, so closely connected with the divine government, gave greater force to his representations.  {PP 41.3}

God could employ only such means as were consistent with truth and righteousness. 

Satan could use what God could not--flattery and deceit. 

He had sought to falsify the word of God and had misrepresented His plan of government, claiming that God was not just in imposing laws upon the angels; that in requiring submission and obedience from His creatures, He was seeking merely the exaltation of Himself. 

It was therefore necessary to demonstrate before the inhabitants of heaven, and of all the worlds, that God's government is just, His law perfect

   Which means, “Thou shalt not kill”.  Exodus 20:13.

Satan had made it appear that he himself was seeking to promote the good of the universe.  The true character of the usurper and his real object must be understood by all.  He must have time to manifest himself by his wicked works.  {PP 42.1}

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Continuing with our family picture:

But man, in his blindness, will overlook the abominations of the ungodly, and pass by unnoticed the continual ingratitude and rebellion, and Heaven-daring sins of those who trample upon God's law and defy his authority.  They do not stop here, but exult in subverting his people, and influencing them by their wiles to transgress, and show open contempt for, the wise requirements of Jehovah.  {1SP 330.1}

Some can see only the destruction of God's enemies, which looks to them unmerciful and severe.  They do not look upon the other side. 

How about a middle view?  No deliberate destruction by God, but no license to continue forever either; only a self-imposed destruction when “fully developed”, for “the wages [result] of sin is [the second] death”.

But let everlasting thanks be given, that impulsive, changeable man, with all his boasted benevolence, is not the disposer and controller of events.  “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” -- Spiritual Gifts, vol.  4, pp.  49-52.  {2SM 332 - 334}


My further comments:

By now we should have seen that God allows separation but does not force it. 

There have been human closes of probation for individuals and groups since sin was first conceived.  When those individuals and/or groups are separate they are then unprotected in the world which is controlled by the prince of the world, Satan, and he extends to them “tender mercies” as he desires because he has “the power of death”.  Hebrews 2:14. 

One of Satan’s great inventions has been to group his followers into associations which believe that he and his sympathisers were kicked out of heaven by a punishing God.  On the other hand, God’s group, the true “resters” in Him, believe that they are protected from the results of sin by their Saviour when they accept His gift (Romans 6:23), and confess their own subsequent transgressions. 

Thus the battle lines are drawn.



To ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?"