by Mike Ratliff
25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25 (NASB)
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 led them to do what they do so it must be okay and those who protest are legalistic, divisive, and haters.
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 that 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.
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (NASB)
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.
23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. Luke 9:23-24 (NASB)
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.
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?
19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “ Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:19-29 (NASB)
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 showed him 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.
15 Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)
22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 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 (NASB)
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 have 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.
Soli Deo Gloria!