Recently I saw a picture of a man. He was teaching and coming out of his mouth was a torrent of mud. Immediately the words "water and dust" came to my mind, and I knew in the Spirit what this meant. The man was teaching from the Word, which was represented by the water, as in Ephesians 5:26. But he was also teaching out of his flesh, which was represented by the dust, as in Psalms 103:14. When the two mixed, it made this terrible mud spewing from his mouth.
Even the world knows that a confused word can "muddy the waters" and that "crystal clear" clarity of word and intent are preferable for teaching. Anything else is "clear as mud". So obviously this teacher was issuing forth a confused word, a confused message, with the potential to confuse his audience on any topic covered. When this is applied to teaching of the Word, we have a grave issue here.
Believers without solid foundation either in the Word or in relationship with God can easily be swept away by the torrent of the teachings of man. They have no spiritual maturity or discernment to lead them to the Truth, which is what we need to hold onto when this flood comes. Knowing our Father's voice (John 10:27), having the Word hidden in our heart (Psalms 119:11), this is where discernment comes from and is our defense against wrong teaching and bad doctrine or theology.
So part of this picture was in discernment of what I was seeing in the natural, a warning against bad teaching. But the flipside of that same coin is guarding against being guilty of doing the same. The Word tells us that not many should become teachers and that those who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1). So when we do feel like we have a word for someone, or feel like God is giving us a word for a group of people, we should test that word against the only thing that lasts forever, God's Word (Isaiah 40:8). We should make sure that what He wants to say is all we allow to come out of our mouths, not embellishing or straying from His message.
I Timothy 1:3-7 directs us further;
"3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions." (ESV)
How many of us have run across teachers like that? Constantly teaching from the prophetic books and speculating on all manner of weirdness having nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? They have vain discussions specifically designed to lift up their own fame and following and glory, doing nothing to increase the fame of Jesus or to bring Glory to His Name. I love the Word's use of the phrase "promote speculation rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith". You can't do both. It also clarifies that they are "without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions". Don't miss for a moment that those to whom the letter was written were instructed to "charge" these people not to teach this way. Not all conflict in the church is of man, some of it is God trying to correct man's behavior, and more often than not, that comes through another man.
So what does this mean then? Out of fear of judgment should we refuse to open our mouths when we feel the Spirit urging us to speak? No, this sin would be like the sin of teaching out of the flesh. Instead we should be open to the Spirit that He may be allowed to speak through us, but continually guard our heart and build on the foundation that God is building in us so that we will not be deceived, and in turn deceive others.
And we can see from I Timothy above that when we see someone teaching in this wrong way, we should charge them to teach only what God is saying in the Spirit, and not out of their flesh. This may not sound like the comfortable church setting you have become familiar with, but it is what we are commanded to do. Besides, are we to be friends of man or of God?
Be greatly blessed!!