If I urge students to actions that are good and right without ever connecting them to the biblical whys, the first danger is that I’m setting them up for legalism.
Even when the items I teach happen to be biblical, I’m establishing a pattern for students of basing their decisions on something apart from God’s law. So ultimately someone (including themselves) could come along and suggest something that goes beyond that law… saying “You should” or “That’s just what we do” without ever backing up the demand. And the minute our students’ demands on themselves or others go beyond God’s law and God’s wisdom, they’ve stepped into the world of legalism.
The second danger is that I might set students up to use themselves as the standard. This problem often arises when we use words like “obviously” or appeal to students’ own “common sense” or natural desires.
The consequences for this will come when someone else (including themselves) says…
- “Obviously, people have no choice over the behavior they’re born with.”
- “It’s common sense that God couldn’t be that way.”
- “It’s only natural to do this.”
- “Obviously there are many possible truths about this.”
- “Clearly this teaching is more spiritual than what you’ve been taught before.”
God is bigger than our hearts, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. So we have to help students understand that nothing is ever right simply because it is “obvious” or because it’s “common sense” or because it “feels right.” We have to help students connect to the biblical whys.
Of course, we will have much wisdom to offer and motivation to give, and not all of it will come directly from the pages of Scripture. The point is that somewhere in the midst of all our teaching, students have to learn to connect the dots between what they do and what God Himself has said.