Right in Our Own Eyes

Study No. 90

  Are we like ancient Israel, who did what they wanted to do, in spite of the consequences? "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" Judges 21:25, 17:6.

Many are familiar with this passage. During the time of the judges of Israel, there were few great leaders, and the people did as they thought right. The wicked incidents surrounding these verses certainly demonstrate the depravity that comes when the masses "do their own thing."

Let me paraphrase this passage for our time: "In these days there is no great spiritual leader among the Israel of God: therefore every professed believer does what he or she thinks is right."

Many will disagree with our understanding that this passage applies directly to our day. Some will say: "Our pastor general is known throughout the world as a great minister. We follow what he, our apostle, says are the ways of God." And here is the problem. They donít know what a true spiritual leader does, or how unbelievers will react to him. These misguided people are right in their own eyes, not knowing that they are on the wrong ship headed in the wrong direction. Like Israel, they clamor for a king to tell them what to do.

Bible prophecy tells us that there will be internationally-noted true spiritual leaders. Malachi 4:4-6 speaks of an Elijah coming just prior to the Day of the LORD. Revelation 11 speaks of the coming two witnesses who will prophesy powerful messages for 1,260 days and then be killed in Jerusalem, events to be known by the whole world.

But what about now? The fact is, there is no king in Israel, no great true spiritual leader known throughout the world, who proclaims the Eternalís laws and rebukes the ungodly. Instead, there are many impostors who speak smooth generalities, and give gifts to heads of state. True prophets would not be invited to appear before royalty very often. Instead, they would thunder Godís warnings directly to wicked rulers.

How then shall we live? Many take one of several wrong courses:

(1) Some distrust all others and do what is right in their own eyes. They study the Bible on their own and come up with their own concepts. They might change long-standing practices overnight as the result of self study, without even discussing their new ideas with their few spiritual close friends, if they have any. These are the most unteachable people on the face of the earth. They find the truth in their own Bibles, and will never have a human spiritual leader over them, or even accept honest discussion with another believer. They have taken the verse "trust no man" to the wrong extreme. The only man they trust is themselves, yet they claim they donít trust themselves, but only Jesus Christ.

(2) Others find their substitute in an authoritarian human religious leader. They become "company men" to an organization. Now, of themselves, organizations are not wrong. But it certainly does become a sin when a human organization takes the place of the Holy Spirit in leading us to the Truth. Those who believe a minister who says, "I will lead you into Godís Kingdom; if you leave this church [organization], you will never make it into Godís Kingdom!" are likewise doing what is right in their own eyes.

The answer is for us to avoid both extremes, to be teachable individuals who will accept and live by new truth, provided that it is the Truth.

Someone who is right in his own eyes never asks himself if he could be wrong. He never prays with sincerity: "Lord, help me to see more of my personal sins and please give me the power of your Spirit to overcome them." He is "right" only in his own eyes.

As a college student, I worked very hard to obtain "A" grades. I remember my French history professor, who gave unusually difficult examinations. He had a unique ability to prepare multiple choice questions with fine differences, so that at first glance, all four possibilities could be the correct answer. In reality, only one choice was correct. I often missed questions that I was sure I had the "right" answer. By the end of the term, I had gained an awesome respect for this brilliant Ph.D. His thoughts had become my thoughts. Looking back, I could see that my professorís tough questions were designed to force me to think, and to thoroughly learn the subject material. I learned that my thoughts were often shallow and faulty, lacking deep reason and understanding.

And so it is with the Almighty and His textbook, the Bible, the history of mankind. Sometimes it seems that all of lifeís questions are multiple choice, and that all of the conflicting choices seem to be right. Yet truly there is only "one way" that is correct. Godís laws are NOT multiple choice. When we apply human reason, we confuse the issue and "do what is right in our own eyes." There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof is the way of death.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith 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.

"Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes" Deuteronomy 12:8.

May the Eternal help us to think His thoughts, and not do what is right in our own eyes. W

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