We should not give a child of seven years the knowledge of a fifteen-year-old. That is premature knowledge. It does not help, but rather it damages. A new believer may just have been saved last week and was baptized last Saturday. Although he is a dear brother, he still smokes, but at this stage his smoking does not bother him. He can still say, “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!” I have seen this kind of case. Such a brother may say, “Formerly I lived in sin. Day by day I lived in the place of gambling, but now I have dropped it. Praise the Lord!” This kind of brother is still young. Do not bother him. Do not tell him, “Brother, since you praise the Lord, you should not smoke.” To do this is to give him premature knowledge. What then should we do? We have to feed him just as a mother has to feed her children and let them grow. When the child grows to a certain age, then she can give him a certain amount of knowledge.
If a new convert is fed in the church and grows, perhaps after two months he will drop smoking. However, if we give him premature knowledge, we will damage him. This is because, on the one hand, he now knows; just as Adam and Eve took the fruit of the tree of knowledge, his eyes are now clear. On the other hand, this new one does not have the growth of life, the stage and degree of life, to follow up on the knowledge. He will know that he should not smoke, but he will not be able to give it up. In this way we damage his conscience. Before we tell him about smoking, he can praise the Lord with confidence. But now he cannot, and neither can he give up smoking. Then his conscience is condemned, there is a breach in his conscience, and he is shipwrecked. I am not guessing about this; I am speaking something that I have seen in the past.
Never pass on premature knowledge. Rather, help people to grow. If a new believer grows, perhaps after only two weeks he will come and ask, “What is the matter? Whenever I smoke I am not so happy.” Even at this point we should be careful. We should simply say, “Brother, bring this matter to the Lord. Pray more. Talk to the Lord. If after you pray, you have the peace to smoke, then just smoke. Smoke by the mercy of the Lord. But after you pray, if you feel it is the Lord’s grace that you give up this thing, then give it up by the grace of the Lord.” Perhaps after another three days, this brother will come to the meeting and give a testimony. This is the growth of life. Premature knowledge, however, damages. Never set yourself up as a standard, and be careful in the church meetings when you are giving a testimony never to set up your experience as a standard. That is wrong.
THE ADEQUATE KNOWLEDGE FROM THE GROWTH OF LIFE
We should learn to deal with the conscience not according to premature knowledge but according to the adequate knowledge from the growth of life. If, for example, a sister stands up in a fellowship meeting and testifies how the Lord dealt with her way of dressing, she must be careful not to set up her experience as a standard, giving people the impression that all the sisters in the meeting must be like her. If you give this kind of impression, you are not ministering the adequate knowledge from the growth of life. On the other side, the other sisters should not follow the first sister simply because they heard her testimony. They should not say, “She is a spiritual sister. From this day she will never dress like she did before. Therefore, I have to follow her.” This also is wrong. The dealing with the conscience must be according to the living knowledge from the growth of life. When we grow in the Lord, we gain an amount of knowledge to realize that we must deal with the Lord about certain things. Then we deal with them. This is right.
THE SUPPLY OF GRACE WITH THE DEALING OF THE CONSCIENCE
Whenever there is the proper knowledge of the conscience that comes from the enlightenment of the spirit, the supply of grace always follows. Whenever we have the realization in our conscience to deal with certain things, we must know there is always the supply of grace to come.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)