By Roland W. Keith
The prophet Jeremiah once wrote, “I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). An odd statement to make about a being who was created in the image of God and given dominion over the earth as its caretaker. But a lot had changed since the creation of man and Jeremiah’s time. Man had been corrupted by sin and no longer walked in harmony with God. As God spoke through Isaiah, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). God’s intellect and understanding is infinitely superior to man’s to be sure, but there was a time, albeit briefly, when the mind of man was at least perfectly attuned to God’s will.
What man lost in the Garden of Eden is beyond our ability to assess. That which is not perfect cannot adequately understand nor describe that which is perfect. For us perfection is an idea or goal to strive toward, but it is not a reality. As Christians we are made perfect through Christ, yet our weaknesses remain with us even as we try to emulate Him. And, as a species our flawed nature is reflected in the world we have created for ourselves, demonstrating just how far from God and perfection we have wandered. Even so, there can still be a connection between us and perfection, between the creation and its Creator.
Through a knowledge of the Messiah and the infallible word of God that leads us to Him we can become reconnected with perfection. We can find the path that brings us back to God and another chance to follow His will. Adam and Eve were to rule the earth according to God’s direction. That is still man’s charter. That which Zechariah prophesied concerning Joshua has been true of man throughout the ages: “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in My ways and keep My charge, then you shall rule My house and have charge of My courts…” (Zechariah 3:7; see also Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 28:1-2; 30:16; Jeremiah 7:23). Those words and promises were delivered to mankind by men God inspired to speak and write for Him. The last such men included first and foremost the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ, and the men that He and the Holy Spirit inspired to complete the final covenant between God and man (Ephesians 3:3-5; Hebrews 1:1-2; II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:16-21; 3:15-16).
When Jesus came to earth His Father gave Him all authority. Jesus used that authority to establish His church, command His disciples in their duties, and to call all men to Himself in obedience to His word (Matthew 28:18-20). It is our responsibility as Christians to do our part in Gods great commission and all works done internal to the body of Christ as well, knowing that all that God has decreed shall come to pass, as spoken in Isaiah: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).
It is our duty to stir one another up to remembrance of God’s word and commandments, and to follow His teachings, continuing in them throughout our lives (II Peter 3:1-2; II Timothy 1:13; 3:14-15). As members of Christ’s body it should be our goal to attain that which Paul hoped for Timothy when he wrote, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Moreover, we must hold to that word throughout our lifetimes, helping to forward to future generations the faith and traditions in which we stand, ready at all times to affirm God’s word and commands (Philippians 2:16; II Thessalonians 2:15; II Timothy 4:2; I Peter 3:15-16; Jude 1:3). Part of that affirmation includes protecting the integrity of the written word.
In his second letter Peter wrote, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (II Peter 2:1-2). It is our job to combat such attacks on God’s word. We must not let false doctrine invade our congregations or go unchallenged in the world. To allow such things is to be complicit with those Paul described as “the sons of disobedience”, risking the wrath of God along with them (Ephesians 5:6-10). We must be able to say, along with Paul, “we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God” (II Corinthians 4:2).
Unfortunately, some will be misled even among those who have a zeal for God: “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness” (Romans 10:2-3). Many are those who believe in God who have been taught and ascribe to the idea that they can worship their Maker according to their own will, without truly seeking or submitting to God in the matter. Paul wrote, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1-3).
No matter how earnest we are in our worship if we drift away from the truth we are courting disaster. So great is that danger that Paul informed the Galatians, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, John recorded this warning that truly applies to all scripture: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).
Jesus Christ issued another warning during His ministry: “If anyone hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me has Himself given Me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me” (John 12:47-50).
The word. It is the authority and power of God over man and all of creation. Each of us has a duty to obey it and a responsibility to protect it from, and to share it with the world. The protection and sharing of the word being among the works that God created us for (Ephesians 2:10), that we might bring glory to His name. So, the next time you pickup your Bible ask yourself this question, “How well am I handling the word of God?”
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.