The Terrible Task of Teaching the Truth

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers,
for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. ~ James 3:1 (ESV)

We do not learn how to live a godly Christian life by osmosis. The hope is that by having new converts or erring Christians hang out with established Believers they will somehow “get it.” They will come to know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. They will learn to make godly choices. Would to God that this was so! It would make the job of leadership so much easier. But the terrible and very inconvenient truth is that it just does not work that way. Truth, and certainly moral truth, must be taught; it simply is not easily caught. Especially since societal norms have fallen so short of godly principles and absolutes.

and certainly moral truth,
must be taught;
it simply is
not easily caught.

Our world is in such moral decay that men and women will, without any sense of shame, not only have sex outside of marriage, but will live together outside of the sacrament of holy matrimony. They literally have no concept of the shocking seriousness of their sin. (Sadly, sometimes the church fails to be shocked as well.) And when they come to God and begin worshipping with fellow believers many times it still does not sink in.

If the simple truths of godly living are not taught they continue to live in their sin. And some well meaning Christians have even been known to excuse such behavior in the name of “Love.”

Making Disciples

Yes, I know, there is a right and wrong way to teach Christian morality. Yes “we cannot clean a fish until we have caught it.” Yes, we do not want to harm those who are new to the faith. And yes, we must be merciful to those who struggle. But to do nothing and ignore the command of Christ to go into all the world and make disciples is a failure of the highest order. We were not told to go and make Believers; we were told to make Disciples. A Disciple is one who lives a disciplined life. "Only through discipline may a man learn to be free." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When it comes to learning livable truth

  • Osmosis will not do it.
  • Praying for them will not do it.
  • Providing a grace filled atmosphere will not do it.
  • Giving them love and unconditional acceptance will not do it.
  • Enjoying a fresh move of the Holy Spirit won’t do it either.
  • Nor will encouraging them.

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, will replace the simple clear teaching of the Word of God on the fundamental issues of morality, ethics and Christian living. Only courageous teaching will do what needs to be done.

And if such teaching was easy, everyone would be doing it. That is why I call it a terrible task. It is not easy, but it is essential, especially in a culture that is so ungodly.

You Get What You Teach

The bad you don’t teach against will continue. The good you fail to teach will not all of a sudden miraculously appear. We must clearly teach against sin. And we must clearly teach the fundamentals of walking with God. To tell a person that it is good for them to daily spend time in the Word and Prayer is not legalism. Bible. It is simple truth. It is part of the life of freedom. And to tell a person that you cannot be a Christian and continue in fornication is not “judging”, nor harshness. It is simple truth. (Well, actually it is judging, but the kind the church is commanded to do. 1 Corinthians 5:12b “Do you not judge those who are within the church?”)

If you want an increase in the Gifts of the Spirit, teach on the gifts. If you want healing to be manifest, teach on healing. If you want people to become givers, teach on giving. If you want them to stop sinning, teach what sin is, how badly it affects all of life, and tell them what godly living looks like. Of course I am not talking about teaching and enforcing the eccentricities of our particular church culture. And every church culture has its eccentricities. I am talking about teaching the pure, unadulterated Word of God. As the Rev. Tony Gratto said recently at my father’s funeral, basic Biblical truth is the skeleton in our spiritual body. It enables us to stand. And in a wicked and sin cursed world, stand we must. Not only must we stand, there are issues on which we must take a stand, if not in the community, certainly in the church.

A Life Transforming Message

It was an
“Oh my God!” moment
that turned me around.
I was not guilty of all of it,
but I suddenly saw
the sins I was committing
and repented immediately.

Many years ago there was a short season in my life when I totally lost my way, so much so that in moral matters I could no longer tell the difference between right and wrong. Caroline, who was just my friend at the time, invited me to come with her to a service at First Congregational Church in Halifax. It was a service I will never forget. The Rev. Doug Mott preached a simple beautiful message. It was free from rants, and condemnation, and diatribes. He simply told the truth. He read the scriptures and then explained that fornication and adultery, lying and homosexual acts, drunkenness and deceit were all sinful in the eyes of God and had no place in the life of a Christian. As the Word of God was coming forth in all of its beautiful clarity the darkness of deception was removed and I saw myself clearly in the light of God’s Holy Word. It was an “Oh my God!” moment that turned me around. I was not guilty of all of it, but I suddenly saw the sins I was committing and repented immediately. Prior to that moment, as unbelievable as it may sound, I literally had no consciousness that I was doing wrong.

God Hungry People Want the Truth

God hungry people want to know the truth. Yes, it may shock and even upset them for a while. "You mean I cannot sleep/live with my boyfriend and be a Christian?” (No, you cannot. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) But if their lives have been truly touched by the grace of God; if they are in an atmosphere soaked with prayer, the Presence of God, love and unconditional acceptance; if they are in a grace-filled fellowship with the moving of the Holy Spirit and full of godly encouragement; and if they have truly committed their lives to Christ they will want to do what is right and pleasing in His eyes. It is our responsibility to not just live it before them but to also teach it to them from the Word.

Thank God for those good and faithful servants of the Most High God with the call and the courage to teach. Evangelists win the lost to Christ; the Pastors care for the flock; the Prophets speak words of inspiration and destiny; but we must have Teachers who clearly explain the way.

"Truth demands confrontation;
loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless."
~Francis Schaeffer.

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