16 ¶ The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
Here is a similar verse to this one;
Proverbs 13:20 ¶ He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
God has given humans understanding; an ability to reason with the purpose of seeking out the things of God. The carnal person uses his reasoning ability to justify himself and to deny God’s very existence. But many people will inquire at the seat of God’s throne. They will ask questions, hear sermons, and even come to church or a small Bible study. Some will read the Bible to a certain degree but are unwilling to patiently devote the time needed to let God’s words soak into their heart of hearts.
They often seek a benefit. They want to be cured of an addiction to pornography or alcohol and drugs. They want their marriage fixed or they want their life to change in some positive way. Eventually, as they wandered in, they wander out. Many evangelical churches can recount the many people who have prayed a 1-2-3 repeat after me mantra that had no real belief behind it and to the detriment of many churches they are more interested in noting how many made that prayer so they can add to some kind of prideful calculator total of “decisions for Christ”. No one asks the person what they actually believe or questions a belief. Once these people come forward they are rarely seen again.
The carnal man doesn’t get what he wants immediately so he abandons God. He turns and walks away either seeking some self help guru or a treatment program that absolves him of all guilt for sin and calls whatever is plaguing him a disease. Or, he goes back to the pit of despair and drowns in alcohol or whatever else is eating him alive.
Sometimes the carnal man or woman seeks forgiveness for some sin they’ve committed. They can’t forgive themselves and they are hoping that God will make them feel better. But, they sit in spiritual agony among the church body filled with self loathing and at some point a part of them realizes they don’t want to be forgiven. Self hatred is actually such a part of their personality now they can’t bear to give up the devil that’s clinging so desperately to their spiritual heart.
They wander in and they wander out and most of them remain “outside the camp” in the congregation of the dead. Why? Well, it’s mostly their fault. They came for the wrong reason; not to submit themselves to God’s will but to get a benefit, like going to see a doctor to prescribe a painkiller to mask the symptoms of their disease. Most of them come in here for the wrong reason.
The carnal man doesn’t understand that what is gripping him isn’t a disease he has no control over or responsibility for. It is sin. He is mistakenly told he must repent of his sins; most of which he is completely clueless about. We don’t tell him he must repent of what he is; a sinner. Its not just what he has done that is filthy to God, its what he is; a vile, wicked sinner who, in his own filthy flesh, dead spirit, and perverted soul is totally incapable of pleasing or obeying the God who created him, the God of the Bible.
To be forgiven, to be changed, to have life, he must recieve Jesus Christ as his Saviour, his personal Saviour by calling on His name and surrendering every part of his life to Christ. Everything must be on the table; his personality, his sexuality, his ambition, his view of himself and others, and nothing, nothing must be held back. He must not just be told but he must believe in his heart of hearts that Christ died for his sins and rose from the dead and that by BELIEVING that and calling on Christ’s name, Christ will save him. He must understand that faith is not something he conjures up in himself but it is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8,9.
Then, he must read God’s words in His Book constantly and hear them preached often to have God change him. He must spend as much time as he can with the people of God, who aren’t perfect, who aren’t even necessarily very intelligent sometimes, who may disagree with him on almost everything from politics to sports to even their personal convictions. In the body of Christ, the local church in which he may have been saved if it didn’t happen in his car or in his own bedroom as he contemplated what spiritual light he had, he must learn to love his brothers and sisters in Christ, in a Godly way, because Christ tells his disciples in John 13:34, 35 that that’s how they’ll be known by others as His disciples. It’s not always easy. We are not always easy to get along with and we often are inconsistent in our witness and testimony and different ones of us are at diffferent locations on our path to be like Christ, a destination that God alone lets us reach and makes happen by our reading and hearing His word plain and preached, prayer, and being a living sacrifice to Him or as the Holy Spirit drags us kicking and screaming to heaven.
He must learn to “rightly divide” God’s words so that when he reads something in Ezekiel that contradicts something in 1st Timothy that he isn’t perplexed. He must know what parts apply to him specifically and doctrinally and how to make a spiritual application with the others without twisting the Scriptures into knots.
He must learn that it isn’t about him. He must learn to stop focusing on his Self as the center of the universe and all his wants and needs. It isn’t about us. It’s about Christ.
But, most won’t get that far. They’ll wander in and wander out and remain in the congregation of the dead. It’s not the many people who will never, ever unite with other Christians in praise and worship, whether it be two or three in a Bible study or hundreds in an assembly of the saints, that mystify me. I know that most humans are bound for destruction and most of them by their own will and as they descend into Hell all they will be able to say is “AAAAAAAAMMMMEEEEENNNNNN!!!!!”. It is the people who reach for the bar of grace and yet fall from it because they will not hear. It is the people who made a false profession for the wrong reasons and never darkened the door of a church building again. It is the people who wandered in and wandered out, remaining in the congregation of the dead, after hearing the words of life that amaze me.
Jesus explained the parable of the sower in Mark;
Mark 4:14 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
When a person hears the way of understanding, learns of Christ’s perfect love for him, and sees the love that true Christians have for each other, and then walks away from it, unless God has mercy on him in some great way, he will most likely remain in the congregation of the dead. This is our greatest tragedy as the people of God, to see this happen.