Friday, October 25, 2013

Human vs Divine Instruction - The Instructor

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"What is called by men an ancestral custom passes away in a moment, but the divine guidance is a possession which abides for ever." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 7)
Part of our earthly instruction is to learn about the culture we live in and their manors and ways of living so we can become productive members of society. However, culture and manors are an always moving target. We could no longer live today as the Romans in Clement's day did as they could in ours. Living in harmony with society and its culture is a good thing, but its not an eternal thing. Man's instruction is for the moment, but God's instruction is for eternity.
"They say that Phoenix was the instructor of Achilles, and Adrastus of the children of Croesus; and Leonides of Alexander, and Nausithous of Philip. But Phoenix was womenmad, Adrastus was a fugitive... Those have not escaped our attention who are called royal instructors among the Persians; whom, in number four, the kings of the Persians select with the greatest care from all the Persians and set over their sons. But the children only learn the use of the bow, and on reaching maturity have sexual intercourse with sisters, and mothers, and women, wives and courtesans innumerable, practiced in intercourse like the wild boars." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 7)
Worldly instruction has value, but it fails to teach us what we really need to know; how to live righteous and godly lives. What good is instruction that trains the mind for here and now without also providing instruction that trains the soul for eternity? Worldly teaching can change the mind but what can change the soul? Fortunately, we have a heavenly instructor that teaches the eternal ways of God.
"But our Instructor is the holy God Jesus, the Word, who is the guide of all humanity. The loving God Himself is our Instructor. Somewhere in song the Holy Spirit says with regard to Him, 'He provided sufficiently for the people in the wilderness. He led him about in the thirst of summer heat in a dry land, and instructed him, and kept him as the apple of His eye, as an eagle protects her nest, and shows her fond solicitude for her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, and bears them on her back. The Lord alone led them, and there was no strange god with them.' Clearly, I trow, has the Scripture exhibited the Instructor in the account it gives of His guidance." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 7)
Our instructor, who trains our minds in the understanding of God and our souls in the doing of what is right, is God Himself. God has not left this work to human instructors but instructs His children Himself. Consider what Paul says, "which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit," (1 Corinthians 2:13) and "for you yourselves are taught by God." (1 Thessalonians 4:9) We have not been left alone, we have a heavenly instructor to train, lead, and guide us. He it is that we should listen to.

David Robison

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