T3. in order to please God, we must do only what is included in His instructions. Our practices must fit the definition and fall within the meaning of what He teaches.
However, we should not conclude that an act must be expressly named or specifically mentioned in order to be authorized. Some people conclude that any act is acceptable unless it is expressly, specifically forbidden. Others conclude the act is wrong unless it is expressly, specifically mentioned. Neither view harmonizes with what we have learned.
A statement of the principle of general and specific authority
When God wants man to do a thing in a particular way, He instructs us by choosing words that are specific or narrow (limited, precise, restricted, detailed, exclusive) in their meaning.
He has told us not to practice things that do not fit the meaning of His instructions. So, when He wants a thing done in a particular way, He words His instructions in such a way as to leave us no choice. If we then do things differently, outside the limits of the meaning of the terms He uses, we displease Him. In this sense, God does not have to specifically say “not to” do certain acts. He just specifies what He wants, and anything different from that is unacceptable.
Note that this principle will determine what constitutes an acceptable aid or tool. Any action, including an aid or tool, must fit the meaning of God’s instructions. If what we do differs from the meaning of God’s instructions, then the act is not an aid but an unauthorized change.
When God wants to leave men free to choose from several alternative ways of doing a thing, He instructs us by choosing words that are more general or broad (inclusive, comprehensive, all-encompassing) in their meaning.
We are still restricted to doing only what fits the meaning of what He said, but in this case there are various ways of doing what fits the instruction. We can then use our own wisdom to choose from any course of action that fits the meaning of what God said to do. Any such choice that we make would be acceptable because we would still be doing what God said.
Note that, in this case, God does not have to spell out all the details of what we should do. He simply instructs us in general terms; then any action – including the use of tools or aids – is authorized, so long as it fits the meaning or definition of the instructions given.
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