Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 6, 1956

Dont's For Doers

C. D. Plum, Columbus, Ohio

A backslider from the church once said to me: "All I hear from you preachers is don't, don't, don't, and it is true of every church of Christ preacher I ever heard, and it has been going on since I was a small boy." This disgruntled member said about all you preachers get done is to condemn some one to the eternal regions. This was indeed a bad mess of sour grapes this erring brother was laying at the feet of preachers, all of us.

It might be more serious if it were true, which it isn't. I have yet to meet the true Christian preacher that is for ever crying don't. And I am not acquainted with any preacher that is always condemning. Most preachers are strong in emphasizing Revelation 22:14: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gate into the city." And most preachers are acquainted with James 1:22: "But be ye doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving your own selves," and they preach it.

Actually, if we preachers are wavering anywhere in these last few years I fear we are emphasizing the affirmative, largely, and not enough emphasis on the negative. We say do more than we say don't. We say yes more than we say no. And I greatly fear this is not good for the church. "Reprove, rebuke, exhort," says holy writ. If it were a matter of just doing what I like to do, I would exhort all the time, if such were well pleasing to the Lord. If I could save my soul and omit reproving and rebuking, that is what I would do. But I can't. The Lord tells me how to preach. I must follow his instructions. And while it is very important for Christians to be sure that they do, it is equally important for them to be sure they don't.

Some of the more common "don'ts" that seem to me need some attention are as follows:

1. Don't stop at hearing. "Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only," is a solemn charge. This is the surest and speediest way to self deception that I know.

2. Don't procrastinate. "Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." Obedience to God is always in the present tense. Satan urges procrastination, but the Lord says, "Today." Delayed obedience is as a rule continued disobedience. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. When Paul reasoned before Felix of "righteousness, temperance and judgment to come" it caused this wicked ruler to tremble. I have often thought I should have been glad to have heard this sermon. But I am quite sure he preached just what we have revealed in the word of God about these very things. But Felix put off obedience. He was a procrastinator. He said he was waiting for a "convenient season." Delay is dangerous. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." (Psalm 9:17.) To mention this or other scriptures on "hell" is not the preacher preaching some one to hell, as he is often accused. It is the preacher trying to preach some one from the road that leads to this place.

3. Don't leave the heart out of obedience. The "form of doctrine" must be "obeyed from the heart." (Rom. 6:17-18.) To obey the form of doctrine from the heart is to obey understandingly, and willingly. In baptism we obey the form of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. The sinner is baptized into his death, buried in baptism, and resurrected therefrom. This is recorded in Romans 6:3-5. And Romans 6:18 says of this: "Being then made free from sin, ye become the servants of righteousness."

4. But as the heart must not be left out of obedience, equally so, don't leave the heart out of the worship. Jesus condemned those who "drew nigh unto him with their mouth, honored him with their lips, but their heart was far from him."

5. Don't shrink back. "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." (Heb. 10:38.) Backsliders are a displeasure to the Lord. The Lord has described them as a "dog returning to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to his own wallowing in the mire."

6. Don't be a Diotrephes. This sort of a being among the Lord's people ever tries to say who are to preach, when, and how long. The best of preachers, like the apostle John, are discriminated against by these big boys. (3 John 9-10.) Usually, these self-appointed fellows are not selected by the congregation as elders, but some of them slip in. But most of these Diotrephes are usually not elders, but by hook or crook try, and often do, bring power to bear to silently control the elders.

7. Don't trust in riches. The man who did, in the twelfth chapter of Luke, found to his eternal sorrow that it did not pay. But he found out when it was too late. His riches were left for some one to quarrel over, and his soul was lost for he had left God out of his program.

8. Don't lie. Yes, I could have written: "Always tell the truth." But the fact still remains that the apostle said, "Lie not one to another." (Col. 3:9.) A lot of things are told, not because some one intended to lie about these things, but just have cultivated a careless habit of not being accurate in speech. And a thing like this grows. It was said in my presence, bout some one I knew, when this one had concluded a statement and walked away: "I wonder if that is so." This man had become careless in speech. Yes, don't lie to God or man.

9. Don't steal. "Let him that stole steal no more." (Eph. 429.) Don't steal from the Lord by failing to give as prospered. Don't steal anything from the Lord. Don't steal from man. "Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." (2 Cor. 8:21.)

10. Don't swear or use vulgarity. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth." Happy is the Christian whose every word is a good example.

11. Don't talk too much. A man who fails to bridle his tongue is a man whose "religion is vain." (James 1:26.) There would be less woe if there were less words. "Slow to speak," says the word of God.