Saturday, June 11, 2011

Proverbs 21:2 commentary; Self-justification in religious practice

2 ¶ Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

Remember, God searches you from the inside;

Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

Also, remember what God has to say about those who justify themselves.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Doc Ruckman has said that men have three needs of the flesh; one to survive and to reproduce themselves, one to gratify themselves, and one to justify themselves. I believe that many if not most of our sins come from an obsession with and a persversion of one of those three things. In this Proverb, man’s self-justification is laid bare and it is said that God ignores your extolling of your own so called righteous intention and goes right to your heart.

When the Hebrews came out of the Wilderness into the Promised Land they fell into this trap. They were warned about self-justifying, carnal religion in Deuteronomy 12:1-12 which is worth reading and contemplating and praying about, and pay particular notice to verse 8.

8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.

The religion of Cain is an example of doing whatever you think is right without regard to what God has commanded to justify yourself in your own mind.

Genesis 4:2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

3 ¶ And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Like Cain, many of us have made up our own religious practice and we say because we do it to glorify God that He must accept it. That’s not true. First, God sees your heart. He sees and judges you by your true intention. Does it please you and satisfy you or does it really glorify Him? Second, if you don’t do things the way God has prescribed them then they are not of God.

Paul warned the Galatians that the reason the Judaizers wanted them to be circumcised was not to honor God, but as all self righteous religious people demand, “to glory in their flesh”.

Galatians 6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

No matter what they say, folks, many people want you to do fleshy, carnal minded things for God, the works they approve of, so that they can glory in your flesh. It’s a way of justifying themselves. A man can’t control the fruit of the Spirit. He can’t direct God working on you through His words in the Bible by the Holy Spirit. Man sees from the outside and God from the inside. Man sees the flesh and God sees the heart. You can fool man. You prance and parade your self assumed righteousness and holiness around and satisfy man. You can’t fool God.

Self justifying man knows you began your walk with Christ in the Spirit but they want you to be perfected, completed in the flesh so they can see you, control you, and judge you.

Galatians 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

The Hebrews in the period of the Judges descended into this “Democracy”. Judges 17:6 and 21:25 both say essentially the same thing. I’ll give the 17:6 version of these verses here.

Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

When our religious expression becomes a dog and pony show, a sort of holy entertainment, an alternative to a rock concert but just like one in response only not as wicked, or a professional football game or boxing match but only without the foul language and scantily clad cheerleaders and round card girls, when we go from emotional fix to fix and emotional high to high, needing constantly to be recharged, to be rebooted because we do not feed on God’s words every day and in every way, and neither rest in Christ nor wait on His will we practice this form of self justifying religion where what we do is right in our own eyes and we arrogantly presume that if we say we do it for God then God must and will bless it.

Fundamentalists like myself like to point fingers at compulsive liars, gossips, thieves, murderers, drug addicts, alcoholics, fornicators, and people who engage in homosexual behavior to express our contempt under the heading of people doing things that are right in their own eyes. That is true that people sin because people want to do what they want to do and what people usually want to do is wrong and the natural man or woman usually rejects Christ or even the concept that they are in need of the Saviour. However, when you cross reference and link up verses in the Bible with like phrasing and words you can’t help but come to the conclusion that while God is, indeed, furious with those who have rejected Him in the visible form of the Lord Jesus Christ, He is also frustrated with those who claim to be His people who justify themselves and who insist on doing it their own way.

We’ll take one verse and focus on its application in the lives of those among the church body because its expression is satisfying to our flesh. But, yet, we’ll ignore verse after verse about the importance of other traits which God has commanded to be manifest in us which are spiritual and can’t be judged or gauged by men and women easily. We judge the outside of a person and imagine vainly that we know what they are thinking. If church member A meets all the criteria we’ve decided in our own eyes smacks of spirituality and holiness we approve of them even if they are playing “fake it to make it” on the inside. We criticize church member B if his walk with Christ doesn’t meet our approval because we personally can’t see or control it and he or she doesn’t brag about it or trumpet it enough in meetings.

Christians will respect anger, paranoia, fear, and rebellion because it can be justified as righteous indignation while they view devotion to God’s word, waiting on God, and trying to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in your life expressed in your dealing with others within the church and without as weakness, indecision, and a lack of a commitment and a lack of being willing to sacrifice one’s personal needs and desires for Christ. Our ways are right in our own eyes, but God knows our hearts.

Proverbs 16:2 ¶ All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.

Proverbs 16:25 ¶ There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

The usual way of explaining these verses has to do with others. Those wicked “others” we like to talk about, those non-believers, who, as is exalted in our American form of political and personal life are free to do whatever is right in their own eyes within certain limits which, to us, are never limiting enough for THEM and always too limiting for US.

But, I’m doing the unusual here for what Dr. Ruckman calls jokingly, a “funnymentalist”. From a historical standpoint, flesh satisfying, carnal religion leads to unbelief. Fleshy religious expression leads to the death of faith. The more political and ritualistic the expression of your faith becomes, the more it slides into apostasy.

We need to wake up. If we are to be true to our faith, it needs to be Christ’s way or the highway. Not Jack Hyles way, not Joel Osteen’s way, not Billy Sunday’s way, not Joyce Meier’s way, but Christ’s way. Not simply a way that pleases our fleshly needs, expresses a Christian culture, or copies a charismatic preacher whom we think is successful. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but God sees what’s really going on inside of each of us in a way we can’t even begin to wrap our minds around.

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