WHAT IS A NOVICE???
1 Timothy 3:6 (KJV)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
In the qualifications for ministers, we are told that one must not be a ‘novice’.
The Greek word for ‘novice’ is neophytos (G3504), meaning newly planted, just germinated, young plant. We find it translated ‘novice’ meaning someone new to the faith, not tested, not learned, not experienced.
There are many who desire the office of pastor, but who have yet not learned the dangers, the pitfalls, the needed information to make one’s efforts not be wasted.
If you were going to jump out of a plane, and had no instruction on how to pull the cord to open the chute, or how to prepare to hit the ground, how to gather the parachute, etc... it would be a dangerous jump.
If one were a novice in cooking, the eggs may turn out slimy and raw, or the steak may be overdone and tough as beef liver. One does need instructions, experiences, training, and a grasp of the subject, for whatever profession one desires to enter.
I have seen novices in ministry. One young pastor was asked ‘On what subject is your sermon this week?’ The answer was, ‘I don’t know. I just open my Bible, and look at a verse when I get to the pulpit, and depend on God to give me words.’ That pretty much explained the rambling messages I heard from him. He had no idea of the subject, he did not realize that God knew what his subject, his text, his illustrations should be millennia ago, and could have that week given him the information, and time to get them in his mind, organize, pray over, and be ready to be anointed as the Spirit would bring back to his mind the things he had studied. But, his messages up to that time were ramblings of thoughts, not organized, and often not even the subject that the Lord would have anointed.
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV):0
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The novice is, or should be ashamed of sermons that show forth a lack of study, a lack of preparation. Life will give illustrations, but many novices have not lived long enough to have many illustrations of truths that the Holy Spirit can bring back to one’s remembrance.
John 14:26 (KJV)
26 But the Comforter, Who is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
A novice who thinks one does not need to study, and then has nothing studied for the Holy Spirit to bring back to their remembrance. Therefore the same oft used illustrations, the weak unstudied exegesis of a passage is repeated over and over, and the message is a kindergarten message.
The Holy Spirit wants to be our Teacher, and that means lessons, and lessons, and lessons throughout eternity. A novice has had few of those lessons yet, and needs to first learn to enter the school of the Spirit, and start on the lessons in the Book the Spirit has authored, and get illustrated lessons in life showing the applications of the truths in the Bible.
Until one has entered this school, and has had some training and lessons to mature them in the faith, it is unwise to try to enter the ministry of pastoring, where one will be called upon to make decisions in spiritual matters, and one will need what to look to avoid in words, actions, and decisions that must be determined.
"...walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart... who being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness to work all uncleanness with greediness."
That is a description of life before salvation. Now, just newly saved, a novice has all that past thinking still in the mind, and the heart is now headed toward God, but the new facts, new ideas, new ways, are needed to be learned. Spiritual eyesight is replacing blindness, but the blindness is still somewhat present, and takes time for experience, training in the school of the Spirit, and study in the Word to cleanse the blind eyes.
Note, that this passage speaks of the ‘vanity of their mind.’ The pride in what is in actuality ‘worthless’ thoughts, is great. The novice has some pride and a false assumption of wisdom and knowledge. The Bible says a ‘novice’ may be lifted up in ‘pride’, and it is a certain reality that this is likely. In reality, they are blind, but they think they have great spiritual insight. They are blind to facts that they do not even see as possibilities.
‘Understanding is darkened’ before salvation, and even right after salvation, one is not ready to be an expert in ‘understanding.’ The blindness is a darkness, obscuring that which they could have seen, if minus the darkness. It is not hidden facts, that God is keeping from them, but their walking in some understanding darkness, that causes the lack of seeing.
In the darkness, mankind stumbles into what they would have stepped over or around, had they had no darkness. Some are partially blind, and what is obvious to the sighted, is obscured by the shadow of darkness. Novices do not see clearly enough to easily avoid pitfalls or stumbling stones.
The passage also speaks of the blind ones being ‘alienated from the life of God.’ God is light, and in Him is no darkness. So, if one is in darkness, they are not walking with God. The Spirit of God will ‘teach us all things’, and is Revealer of the Truth. So, when we walk with God, we walk in light, not darkness. Until we have walked in the light for a while, we do not truly know the route. It is like the drive home from work, one drives it every day, over and over, until finally, it can be driven without really thinking ‘what is the next turn? or ‘how long before I arrive?’ The longer we walk in the light, the more able we will be able to share the directions to others who are along the way. When a novice in this walk, we are still not yet prepared to give directions to others.
The passage also speaks of the ‘ignorance that is in them.’ There is ignorance in new converts. Novices do not know that they are ignorant. They think they are smart. In reality, novices are simply ignorant of what the longer saved ones, the test and tried saints know from experience and from study of the Word. Novices are just beginning in their spiritual education, and are somewhat ignorant still. Yet, novices sometimes think they see and think they are brilliant.
The passage speaks of this ‘ignorance’ as being because of the ‘blindness of their heart.’ So, the ignorance is not due to just lack of study. The pharisees of Jesus’ first coming, had much education, but did not see things due to blindness. It is often despite the much education of some, that some are still ignorant. The reason for that ignorance is blindness, not lack of education. This blindness that is due to a lack of wanting to see some things, is one of the harder lessons the Holy Spirit has to correct. It often is not given in the first days after salvation. The lesson will come, but often needs experiences, and life events, to illustrate truths that will remove the blindness of pharisaical thinking.
The unsaved were ‘past feeling’. The novice, just saved, is now starting to have feelings never felt before while in sin. This means the novice will feel the conviction of the Spirit, in a new way. They will be sensitive to His tugs on the heart, whereas before they did not feel Him as He shouted truth. Now, the feelings of conviction will bring immediate change, regret for failure, and seeking of the Lord for power to be victorious.
No longer will the seared conscience hinder their feelings, but the novice will begin to feel love, joy, peace, etc in a new and powerful way. Conviction for failure, desire for prayer, love for the Word, mercy for those who wrong them, will be new feelings that will be felt, and marveled in. The novice needs time to mature in those feelings, learn how to respond to those feelings. As the novice matures, then later, no longer a novice in those feelings, he/she can be used in working with the Spirit of God on those who still are ignoring, shunning, and rejecting those feelings. Till the novice has felt them themselves, and has learned how they work on our hearts, and the purpose God has for each of those feelings, they are unable to be in the role of a pastor.
That passage on blindness of the heart, also speaks of ‘given... unto lasciviousness.’ Lasciviousness is doing that which is not sin by itself, but which weakens one to possible sin. A novice may be able to list the sins they must ignore, shun, and hate, but must also learn the things that are not sin in themselves, but if tolerated will lead one toward sin. This takes time to learn, experience will teach.
To do those things, all right in themselves, but will seductively lead toward sin, causes the novice to have an ‘up and down’ walk, that needs to become more consistent. The vulnerability that lasciviousness gives a novice needs time in the Word, time with the Spirit of God, and time in prayer to overcome.
The novice will still be living too much in lasciviousness, and therefore doing some things, not seeing the danger in those things.
The novice can still have relationships that bring blindness to them. These relationships change after salvation, and with time the relationship is adjusted.
I John 2:11
"He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walks into darkness, and knows not where he goes, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."
Many a novice has been attacked due to another’s blindness. They did not see what another saw, and that blindness made them hate the one who was seeing. The older, more experienced pastor will see, and see very clearly, due to the Light in which they walk. The novice still somewhat in darkness misjudge, misconstrue, and do not see what the more mature in the faith is saying. So, the Holy Spirit needs to work longer on the novice.
Sometimes, novices attach themselves to ministers who want to do the work of the Holy Spirit and mentor themselves those the Spirit wants in His school. Sometimes, or oftentimes, the mentors are blind themselves to many things the novice needs to learn.
"Let them alone, they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
The blind feel comfortable leading. In fact, they like to lead more than the sighted ones do. Why? Well, they do not see the dangers, the pitfalls, the coming judgment. So, unsighted, blinded to seeing those dangers, they are comfortable leading others. The blind ones see no danger, the blind do not see the coming judgment on the church. They feel therefore no compulsion to warn, to be concerned over others’ safety.
The blind hate the more mature in the faith. For those more mature see the dangers, the coming judgments, the needs of the ones that are unready, and unaware. Therefore the more mature warn, shout wake up calls, and caution the novices. The blind mentors are totally oblivious to the reason for the concern of the more mature who caution the novices.
The blind mentors, with nothing but blessings to pronounce, think they are the best leaders. That is why we often see those who preach caution and patience to the novices come to be attacked, mocked and ridiculed by the ones who are spiritually blind mentors.
Some novices stay novices eternally. For they have a ‘spirit of slumber’, an apathy toward learning from the Holy Spirit, and from the Word of God. They play a mean game of golf for the Lord, but they lack Bible study that would enlighten their remaining darkness in spiritual truth.
"Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the elect hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded... God hath given them a spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see.’
There is an apathy, spiritual sleepiness in some novices that are spiritually blind. When a person blind to truth, has their eyes opened, the blindness removed, there is a sudden anxiousness, zeal, eagerness, excitement, for they are no longer blind, and the things they now see, excite them.
Some novices do not get excited in the school of the Spirit, and just sit back and hope that someone wants a ‘novice’ to pastor their huge church. The lessons the novices need are being ignored, or unseen, for they have not opened their sleeping-blind eyes. The minds of novices that have been blinded, can be opened, and truths and light can immerse the soul. A spiritual awakening to the Spirit’s truths needs to open their eyes, blinded by slumber.
II Corinthians 3:14
"But their minds were blinded, for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament, which veil is done away in Christ.’
Some novices will remain novices as long as there is slumber, or as long as there are scales on their spiritual eyes. The novices will not know sin from righteousness. They will not sense the coming judgments. They will not recognize signs of Jesus’ soon return. They will not sense the love of God for sinners. They will not value spiritual things. They will not determine the worthlessness of carnal things.