Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 19, 1951

Guile -- A Diabolical Device

Robert H. Farish, Tarrant, Alabama

The gospel preacher has no lack as a gospel preacher that can be supplied by plans, devices, schemes and such from human wisdom and certainly he dare not utilize any stratagem originating with the devil. Complete furnishing for the accomplishing of his ministry is available in the Word of Truth. This is the teaching of the apostle in 2 Timothy 3:16, 17: Many fine lessons can be gained by studying and re-studying these verses. The statement, "Every scripture inspired of God,' reveals the source of the Word. "Is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness," is the statements of its' design or use. "That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work," is the divine guarantee of its' adequacy. However, before the profit here contemplated can be realized, the "scripture inspired of God' must be used—employed in accomplishing the "good work' for which it was designed: Hence, Paul charges Timothy to "preach the Word." When one preaches "the Word,' he demonstrates faith in God, its' designer. But when one turns to the wisdom of the world for any part of his furnishing, as a preacher, he demonstrates a lack of faith, and to go to the devil's storehouse is to reveal that the one so doing feels a need for such diabolical devices. Righteous causes and honorable characters never need unrighteous or dishonorable aids to promote or sustain them.

Among those who claim to be fighting the good fight of faith,' weapons and stratagems can be observed that are not supplied by "the scripture inspired of God,' hence are of no profit for accomplishing the "good work" ordained of God. We have already seen that "the Word" is from God. Any furnishing obtained therefrom is therefore of God. A source relied upon by many is human wisdom, but the wisdom of the world is inadequate—it cannot furnish unto "good works.' 1 Cor. 1:21 "For seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world through its' wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Another source to which many go is the devil's arsenal. Some of Christ's day gained their furnishing from this diabolical source. John 8:44 "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father thereof.' Those people rejected the truth spoken by Christ—they refused to accept heaven's "furnishing"—because they were bent on utilizing the "lie' furnished by the devil. The devil fathered the lie; it is his instrument to gain his end. It is with the firm conviction that God's purposes cannot be advanced by the devil's devices that this is written.

When devilish devices are utilized by those who are supposed to be men of God it is indeed a sad commentary on that preacher's conception of what constitutes honorable behavior. Probably the most popular of these devices is guile. Those cheap political devices which have been adopted by some preachers, for the sake of advantage, such as flattery, dodges and evasions, calculated vagueness and generalizations on vital issues, willfully putting untrue constructions on words and actions of others, chameleonic statements that can be modified and shaded to fit into whatever setting that seems to be currently advantageous, are some of the ways of guile. None of these is honest, all are forbidden the Christian. 1 Peter 2:1 "Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile.' While such devices may gain some temporary material advantage for the one employing them, yet they can never be utilized except at the expense of spirituality. Guile must be put away if one is to grow "unto salvation."

Men in the pulpit need to be "mighty in the scripture," not "full of all guile." More preaching of the word and less practicing of guile should be the order of the day: The preacher of the word should be forthright in all his behavior and speech. Any feeling of need for guile should be recognized as a symptom of sin.

Some seem to think that because there are "wolves in sheep's clothing' that must be met and defeated, that they must adopt the wolf's tactics. This is not true. Christ said, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.' These circumstances that they would encounter in their preaching described as "in the midst of wolves" did not justify adopting wolfish tactics. The Lord drew his own conclusion, "be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.' This makes it evident that one can be both wise and harmless: There is no lack of harmony between the two. The apostles were instructed to be wise as serpents. This is not construed to mean that they were to partake of serpentine wisdom. Christ is not in this place teaching them the nature and source of wisdom which they were to employ but rather is teaching them the need of wisdom. The wisdom of which they were to partake was "The wisdom that is from above.' The wisdom from above is "without hypocrisy,' it employs no instrument to deceive. No circumstances can justify a preacher acting like a snake.