OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew

               When man is left to his own devices, he travels paths that are dangerous and deadly.  For this cause, the prophet wrote:  “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself:  it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).  God, on the other hand, knows what is best for man.  Therefore, he leads man down paths of peace and prosperity.  “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:  he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul:  he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Ps. 23:1-3).

               Man as a tendency to forget that God’s instructions are right.  He doubts whether God’s precepts are really good for him.  He convinces himself that God’s commandments are too restrictive.  He assumes that he knows what is best for his life.  When fully persuaded of these things, he sets out on a path that is in total disregard for God’s Word.

               History is replete with examples of those who disregarded God’s statutes.  One example takes us back to the beginning of time.  God had created man and had put him in a pristine garden.  He blessed man with an help meet that was suitable just for him.  The Creator’s instructions were simple.  “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it:  for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17).  One tree out of hundreds was off limits.  Satan, however, convinced Eve that the forbidden tree was good for her.  She believed his lies and totally disregarded God’s will.  “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6).  The consequences of Adam’s and Eve’s sin rocked their world.  The consequences of their disregard for God’s Word would impact every generation to come.  “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

               Another example of one who totally disregarded the will of God is found within a wilderness.  God’s people were traveling in a hot, humid region.  Water was scarce.  Thus, they grew thirsty and began to complain to their leader, a man named Moses.  Their leader and his brother, Aaron, inquired of the Lord about the matter.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes:  and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock:  so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts to drink” (Num. 20:7-8).  Moses’ actions were in complete harmony with God’s instruction, except in one point.  “And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice:  and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also” (Num. 20:11).  Remember, God had commanded His servant to speak to the rock.  Instead, he smote the rock twice.  This involved a total disregard for God’s Word.  God confronted Moses about his actions.  The consequences he received were quite severe.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Num. 20:12).

               A third example in the Old Testament came in the days of theUnited Kingdom.  The people had desired a king, and Saul was their selection.  His reign began well, but quickly deteriorated.  His total disregard for God’s will came when he was sent to destroy an enemy people call the Amalekites.  God’s orders were clear.  “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (I Sam. 15:3).  Saul only needed to remember three words in order to properly carry out his orders:  “utterly destroy all.”  Saul went as commanded, but he totally disregarded God’s will.  “But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them:  but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they utterly destroyed” (I Sam. 15:9).  The prophet Samuel was informed of Saul’s disobedience by the Lord (I Sam. 15:10-11).  When he confronted the monarch, his words were stern.  “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because thou has rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (I Sam. 15:22-23).

               As we examine these three examples, we are astounded that these individuals just blatantly disregarded God’s Word.  However, we should not be so quick to ridicule.  We still find numerous people, even those who claim to be followers of God, who totally disregard the Word of God.

1.            God says not to forsake the assembly (Heb. 10:25), but some miss on a continual basis.

2.            The Lord says to withdraw fellowship from the disorderly (II Thess. 3:6), but some continue to fellowship them, even to the point of eating and drinking with them (I Cor. 5:11).

3.            The Scripture tells us to approach a brother privately if we have been offended by him (Matt. 18:15), but some immediately spread the matter to a host of others.

4.            The Spirit has commanded us to keep our speech free from corrupt communication (Eph. 4:29), but there are some who proceed to curse and revel in dirty jokes.

5.            God’s Word plainly states that we are not to lie (Eph. 4:25), but it is not uncommon to hear people twist the truth, stretch the truth, and blatantly lie, especially if they receive some benefit or advantage in so doing.

6.            The Bible commands fathers to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:1), but some dads leave this training up to the mother.

Many more present-day examples could be given.  These examples are not any different from the Old Testament examples that were presented.  Each involves a person in a total disregard for God’s Word.

               The Hebrew writer was aware of man’s tendency to set aside God’s Word.  He was also aware of the Old Testament characters who were guilty of such.  Thus, he issues a stern warning to us in Hebrews 10:26-31.

                              “For if we sin willfully after that we have received a knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:  of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?  For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.  And again,                         The Lord shall judge his people.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”