above all others, are to be a people governed by principles. The world
may not yield to an obvious code of conduct, but God's children
recognize that the distinct teachings of God's Word give us higher and
better rules than our own to guide us through life. Just as Luke wrote
of "those things which are most surely believed among us"
we can speak of our common commitment to settled principles that have
been revealed from Heaven. Those precepts are the standards held high by
the pillar and ground of the Truth
(1 Tim. 3:15).
They are honorable, virtuous, and noble
Only to the degree that our scruples are shaped by untainted Truth can
we live uprightly.
precepts are to be kept diligently
We are to long for, love, and meditate upon them
(vv. 15, 40, 159).
We can understand them and talk of them
(v. 27). They
give us comfort and hope when men hold us in derision
principles come as a package
We either trust God and obey Him concerning all of our ways, or
we do not trust Him at all. He Who inspired the living, powerful
Scriptures that are able to discern the thoughts and intents of our
hearts knows everything about us and everything about every situation
that we will encounter
principles are the hand of God helping us
They require us to acknowledge our own lack of personal wisdom
and our need to rely upon Him. Those who count themselves wise enough to
value their own wisdom above God's slaps His hand away.
Principles connect with one another
and builds upon another and enlarges it. Some make perfect sense
only when understood in light of some others. All are consistent with
all others. True precepts from the mind of God never contradict each
human principles enter the stream they corrupt it. Sometimes men become
guilty of attempting to teach others of their duty toward God by using
mere human principles.
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with
their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their
heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of
men (Isa. 29:13).
practice seems to especially prevail when difficult matters arise and
consequential choices must be made concerning people. Even well
respected and well-meaning brethren have been known to invent principles
with which they attempt to control others under special circumstances.
These often contradict and nullify principles God gave for our guidance.
example, God teaches us to meekly seek to restore those overtaken in a
fault (Gal. 6:1; 2
Tim. 2:25) and shows us that doing so has the effect of saving a
soul from death
(Jam. 5:19-20; Jude 23). We are to mark those who "cause
divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine... and avoid them"
God's principle is that we must have no company with brethren who will
not obey God, but to admonish them as brethren rather than as enemies
(1 Cor. 5:9-11; 2
The. 3:6, 14-15). We are not to bid God speed to those who will
not respond to such admonitions
(2 John 9-11; 1 Tim.
6:3-5; 2 Tim 3:5; Tit. 3:10).
provides a very detailed prescription for applying this principle to
(Mat. 18:15-17). These precepts are not difficult to understand
or to apply until precepts of men interfere. Perhaps because these
principles require action with reference to people we know and love and
those who are unpleasant and bothersome men find it easy to develop
their own principles that modify those of God. Even otherwise sound
brethren can be guilty of this practice as are those who are apparently
going out from among us. Since these Divine principles touch upon so
many matters that affect the kingdom from fellowship with denominations
to our personal duty to assist some specific brother to go to Heaven -
it is worth our time to notice some of those human principles that would
abrogate Divine ones.
Never Be Sure of the Facts"
agnostic human precept flies in the face of
and ignores the force that God tells us to give to credible testimony
(Num. 35:30; Deu.
17:6; 19:15; John 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28-29).
On the face of it, whenever God teaches us that we are to do certain
things under certain conditions, then those conditions can be known to
exist at least some of the time.
Truth Is Always Midway Between the Extremes"
not merely a harmless, human, unbiblical observation. It has grievous
consequences when applied. It judges all testimony to be unworthy of
belief. If we applied it consistently, we would have to find the
midpoint between the testimony of Diotrephes and that of John
(3 John 9)
and between every other set of extremes between the Bible and the world.
The Truth often has an extreme contrasting lie. Our duty is either to
find the Truth or to recognize that we have not found it.
Wrong To Deal With Personal Attacks; We Can Only Challenge the Doctrinal
Sins of Others"
not able to find such precepts in the Divine principles. These human
precepts would condemn Paul for dealing with the Corinthian brother who
had his father's wife and John for responding to the personal attacks of
Diotrephes. In our day these principles would provide safe haven for
every slanderer and fornicator, whether in pulpit or pew.
Divine Principles do
not yield. Unqualified Divine principles apply to all persons at
all times and in all circumstances. Their nature is such that we cannot
use them today for one purpose and then discard them tomorrow for
different purposes. We cannot apply them to foes and then ignore them
when friends are involved. They guard us from being partial in our
judgment (1 Tim.
5:21). While they sometimes force us to act when we would much
rather remain still, they also restrain us when we might otherwise act
unite. When we keep them pure, they bring us together. When we
contaminate them they divide: "I am a companion of all them that fear
thee, and of them that keep thy precepts"
principles liberate. They free us from the obligation to act when many
around us apply pressure to do so. "And I will walk at liberty: for I
seek thy precepts. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings,
and will not be ashamed"
(Psa. 119:45-46; see
also vv. 69, 78, 87, 94, 110, 134). They free us from the
responsibility of deciding what ought to be done or said
(1 Cor. 4:1-4).
obligations. Principles become premises, premises lead to
conclusions, and conclusions have consequences. We bind ourselves with a
duty to act in ways that agree with our principles once we have
expressed what they are
(Rom. 2:1, 3).
The man who asserts that "the truth regarding another's conduct
cannot be known," for example, must remain passive and silent at all
times. Otherwise he is clearly out of duty, and his own conscience
should testify to his hypocrisy if he speaks even once concerning
another's conduct. No rebuke or kindly admonition should be needed to
show it to him. He will be judged by even the arbitrary principles that
he seeks to bind upon others
We must take care not to adopt unbiblical principles as standards of
judgment for others.
rather fill our hearts and mouths with Divine principles and apply the
winnowing fork to those that are human.
have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted
and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been
taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil
you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men,
after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him
dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in
him, which is the head of all principality and power
by Tim Nichols
Modest Dress With Propriety and
What Can be Known Can be Shown
Decisive Speech or Divisive Silence?
The Prudent Pause