Moral Physicians

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. —John 1:6-8

In the previous chapter I said that truth should not be passed out indiscriminately, but suited to the circumstances and needs of the hearers.

From the prophets we learn this and from the apostles, as well as from our Lord Himself. These were never bound by a mechanical religious ìcurriculumî which dictated unintelligently that certain doctrines were to be taught at certain times regardless of conditions. They prescribed truth as a divine medicine to be proclaimed with emphasis when the needs of the people called for it. They preached hope when the morale of the nation was low, obedience when the people grew careless, purity when their morals began to sag, humility when they became proud and repentance when they fell into sin. All was in accord with the total body of revealed truth, but the moral skill of these men of God enabled them to fit the message to conditions. Otherwise a vast amount of truth could have been wasted and a world of prayer and hard labor rendered ineffective.

Today the religious situation cries out for the skilled moral physician who can diagnose our ills and prescribe wisely for our cure. It is not enough simply to repeat correct doctrinal cliches. It is imperative right now that we have the benefit of the piercing discernment of the Spirit. We must not only know what God has said; we must hear what God is now saying.

Lord, thank You for Your messengers over the years who have offended me by exposing my sin, yet have clearly prescribed Your remedy.

How would we react today to a John the Baptist among us? He wouldn't be dressed right. He would seem tactless, terribly frank and outspoken. But he would be a "voice in the desert," thoroughly convinced he was the messenger not the message.

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