by Mike Ratliff
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25 ESV)
We live in an evil time. There are large numbers of “Christian” leaders who claim to be ministers of God, but prove by their words and actions to have thrown off the authority of God. They do what is right in their own eyes while claiming that they are only following the leading of the Holy Spirit. The fact that what they say or do is unbiblical seems to trouble very few. When some point out the truth to them, they claim that God has lead them to do what they do so it must be okay and those who protest are just legalistic.
The following is the introduction to the book of Judges from the 1560 Edition of the Geneva Bible.
Albeit there is nothing that more provoketh God’s wrath, than man’s ingratitude, yet is there nothing so displeasant and heinous that can turn back God’s love from his Church. For now when the Israelites were entered into the land of Canaan, and saw the truth of God’s promise performed, instead of acknowledging his great benefits and giving thanks for the same, they fell to most horrible oblivion of God’s graces, contrary to their solemn promise made unto Joshua, and so provoked his vengeance (as much as in them stood) to their utter destruction. Whereof as they had most evident signs by the mutability of their state: (for he suffered them to be most cruelly vexed and tormented by tyrants: he pulled them from liberty, and cast them into slavery, to the intent they might feel their own miseries, and so call unto him, and be delivered.) So to show that his mercies endure forever, he raised up from time to time such as should deliver them, and assure them of his favor and grace, if they would turn to him by true repentance. And these deliverers the Scripture calleth Judges, because they were executers of God’s judgments, not chosen of the people nor by succession, but raised up as it seemed best to God, for the governance of his people. They were fourteen in number beside Joshua, and governed from Joshua unto Saul the first King of Israel. Joshua and these unto the time of Saul, ruled 377 years. In this book are many notable points declared, but woe especially: first, the battle that the Church of God hath for the maintenance of true Religion against idolatry and superstition: next, what great danger that commonwealth is in, when as God giveth not a Magistrate to retain his people in the pureness of Religion and his true service.
My brethren, much of what is called Christian these days is not. Even though compromise with the World is preached against throughout the Bible, the pragmatic “Christian,” motivated by relativism and holding a world-view of Man at the center and holding a concept of a remote and nearly irrelevant God, sees nothing wrong with integrating the teachings of the Buddha and Mohammed with those of Jesus.
Undoubtedly, many Christians see nothing wrong with sort of thing, but Christians whose lives are centered in the Word of God sees the evil in compromise. Why? Life in the Word is how Christians become Christlike, obedient, and Spirit-filled.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)
The Christian who is a living sacrifice is one who does not do what is right in his or her own eyes. Instead, they give up their rights to themselves by taking up their crosses and following Jesus.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 ESV)
Christians who are living sacrifices live lives that are holy and acceptable to God. They live their lives as acts of worship. They do this by being transformed by the renewal of their minds. This is saturating their lives with the Word of God. They worship and pray and meditate on God’s Word as a way of life. Those who do this will not do what is right in their own eyes, but will walk through each day as the Spirit leads. At each moment of decision or judgment they seek to line up with God and His will.
Consider this little blurb from this website:
Highland Baptist Church, 1101 Cherokee Road, will begin an eight-week study of Brian McLaren’s book “Everything Must Change” at 5 p.m. tomorrow. Studies will be two hours each week through May 18, including a meal. Books are available for purchase at the church for $20. Information: 451-3735.
Why would a “church” spend time studying Brian McLaren’s book Everything Must Change instead of the Bible? Those doing this are not seeking to be conformed to Christ. Instead, they are seeking to conform the “Church” to the ways of Man and the World. This is no different than what the ancient Israelites did during the period of the Judges.
The first chapter in the book of Judges describes what happens to the Israelites as those died who had seen the mighty of works of God in the Exodus. The younger generations compromised by intermarrying with the Canaanites and corrupted their religion by serving the Baals and the Asthoreths. They were in unbelief. They did not have the evidence before their eyes of God’s Sovereignty so they adopted the false religion of those around them. Did Jesus address this?
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:19-29 ESV)
Where did the understanding come from to believe the Lord? Did it not come unto those who had received the Holy Spirit? Thomas was not there that day. When told of Jesus’ resurrection he refused to believe. Jesus appeared to him and addressed his unbelief. When he had him see the evidence he believed. However Jesus made a statement here that we need to understand. He said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Believers today have not seen Jesus bodily. Those who believe do so because the Holy Spirit, by God’s Grace, has accorded with their faith so they can believe. (Ephesians 2:1-10) What does this say about all of those professing Christians who are pursuing compromise with false religions even to the point of proclaiming that there are many ways to God?
My brethren, let us draw near unto God and pursue Him and His ways. Let us shun those who compromise. Let us preach the truth to everyone. Here is an example of this from the book of Acts.
Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed. Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”–because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17:15-34 ESV)
Paul did not compromise the Gospel to reach these pagans. He preached Jesus and the resurrection. If he had merged the Gospel with the mythology of the Greek religion then he would probably had huge numbers of these philosophers following after him. But look closely at what Paul preached in the Areopagus. He preached repentance in light of the coming judgment of God. He preached the veracity of repentance unto salvation in Jesus because of His resurrection. How many followed Paul from this group. How many clamored to hear more? Only a few believed. This is how the real Gospel works when it is preached correctly. Some believe and repent and the majority reject it. There is no compromise with the ways of the world. There is no relativism. There is no pragmatism. Why? It is not needed and those things only corrupt the Gospel.
Who does what is right in their own eyes? Those who have not the Spirit of God do this. Those who do must deny themselves and take up their crosses and follow Jesus. Consider this; in the analogy of our call to be Christ’s disciples, we must die to self. Everyone knew in Jesus’ day that when a person was seen carrying their cross out of the city gates, they weren’t coming back. This is how the genuine Christian must be to the world and its ways. This includes all false religions. Yes, preach the truth to them, but never try to merge God’s truth with their lies.