A friend of mine sent me a text of a quote from A.W. Tozer, a brilliant Christian writer.  The quote was “We need to learn that truth consists not in correct doctrine, but in correct doctrine plus inward enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.”

There was a guy at a church we served at in Southern California who had learned that a couple in our church were living together.  He approached me and asked if I knew “what was going on.”  When I told him I was aware, he demanded to know what I was doing about it.  I told him I was praying for these people, that the Holy Spirit would convict them that they were cheating themselves and their relationship, and that I (or somebody) would have the opportunity to help them make things “right before God.”

He determined that was not enough and that he would “do something” about it.  As he walked away, I grabbed his shirt sleeve and brought him back into our conversation.  I told him that he was not the guy.  That though his doctrine was correct; God established marriage as the proper context for a man and woman to live together, it was not enough.  His attitude was not right – either for these people, or toward God.

He saw these people as sinful, bad; their situation was an affront to God.  I believe God saw them as missing out on something precious, limiting His ability to bless them.  His “correcting” them would most likely turn them away from our church, and more importantly, away from God.  My plan was to allow the Holy Spirit to change their minds and to partner with Him in helping these wonderful people to find fulfillment – Not just “making it right”.

The couple got convicted, and married, and are still a part of that church serving God together.  The guy left the church before he could see all that happen.

Every time the Bible talks about our responsibility to bring correction to others, it mentions what our attitude should be;

            1 Timothy 1:3-5 (HCSB) 3 As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach different doctrine 4 or to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies. These promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan, which operates by faith. 5 Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. (emphasis mine)

“Sinners” are people who for any number of different reasons have come to believe a lie, or who believe there is a short cut to happiness.  They do not understand the only thing they have cut short, is the blessings of fully serving God and the happiness they experience is only a shadow of the true happiness that comes from a Greater Life with Christ.