According to a popular saying, “Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual.” But this isn’t really true. Our Creator (“Manufacturer” if you will) left us with a collection of some 66 “books” compiled into one volume called “The Bible,” which someone has aptly described as “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” And, not only did He give us details of how and why we were made, but He also gave us all the instructions we need for life on this earth to fulfill His purpose for our lives. In addition to His written instructions in His revealed Word, He gave us God the Holy Spirit to live in us to guide us into the truths of His Word, and the power to apply it to our lives.
In last week’s “Wisdom of the Week,” I warned of the danger of the “Do It Yourself” mentality when it comes to spiritual things. We have the natural tendency to try things out before we read the “Instruction Manual.” Because of our fallen, sinful nature received from Adam (Ro. 5:12,19), we have a rebelliousness that wants to do things our way and by ourselves. When we get a product in the mail or from the store that requires assembly, we tend to first give it a try without looking at the instructions. After all, we are intelligent, educated people. How hard can it be? Only when we get frustrated at our failure do we finally look at what the manufacturer told us to do.
When it comes to spiritual things, it is no different, only the consequences are infinitely greater. If we try to figure out a life plan that will take us to heaven, but don’t bother to see what our Maker said is the only way to heaven, we will one day hear from Jesus, “Depart from Me, I never knew you” (Mt. 7:23). The “One Way” is Jesus Christ who claimed, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14:6). He did for us (paid the penalty for our sins...II Cor. 5:21) what we cannot possibly accomplish on our own (Eph. 2:8,9). That was God’s plan from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). There aren’t many paths to God and heaven, there is one: the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:1-4). To make sure of heaven, put your trust entirely in Jesus Christ, by asking Him to be your personal Savior (Acts 16:31). “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (I Jn. 5:10-12).
Then, as a believer follow the “Instruction Manual” for how to live to fulfill God’s purpose for your life and to experience the joy of fulfilling the purpose for which God made you. God gave very clear instructions on the distinction of the sexes, the definition of marriage and of the roles of the husband and the wife, the relationship between parents and children, of employers and employees, how to care for the earth, etc. When we go outside those guidelines, thinking we can live as we please, following the lusts of our sinful flesh, we ultimately pay the consequences. “Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). If we ignore God’s principles and instructions, thinking there really are no absolute standards, and that we can get away with doing what we feel like, we will one day very much regret our choice. The Apostle Paul, in referring to such people, says that those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” become “fools” and therefore “God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God (the instructions in His manual) for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another….” (Ro. 1:18-27).
What a sad commentary this is on our current culture where people have totally lost their moral compass because they have thrown out “The Manufacturer’s Instruction Manual” and are doing their own thing and any who object are not just “old fashioned,” but hateful and need counseling! Isaiah has quite a sobering warning for our generation: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight!…Who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! ” (Isa. 5:20-23).
Our only hope is a return to making God’s Word, the Bible, our absolute authority for faith and practice. History is full of the tragic stories of those who tried it on their own and the disasters that result. We are witnessing that in our world today and in our own nation, which once largely followed the instructions of our Manufacturer, but now advocate lifestyles that fly in the face of our Maker. God have mercy!