September 9, 2014

Education and rules do not protect me

In September and October, my devotional guide looks at the need to be alert to spiritual danger. The human idea of how to protect ourselves is through adequate knowledge (education) and having laws and rules to guide us. However, the most educated countries in the world and those with the most sophisticated legal systems are no better off regard crime and human misery than uneducated pagans with the primitive laws.

While many people make an idol out of education, British politician Lloyd George observed, “Education without God makes clever devils.” While many insist that better laws will fix the problems of crime and rebellion in society, but Bill Gothard, founder of Basic Life Principles, says that, “Our courts are now in confusion, with two opposing legal systems. One is based on biblical principles; the other on humanistic principles. This explains why court decisions are more and more unpredictable, inconsistent and even contradictory.”

I have observed that protecting my own life from spiritual danger means recognizing my problems are not about ignorance. I almost always know the difference between right and wrong. Neither will my protection come from more rules, for rules do not changed the rebellion that pops up from my own sinful heart. I can know something is not good for me (it might be as simple as another slice of chocolate cake), but the rules of healthy eating do not prevail against that sinful and dangerous attitude of, “I want what I want when I want it.”

The Bible offers hundreds of examples of the folly of humanity and its source. We are sinners. We resist God to our peril. Education and wisdom do not help us for, “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” (Proverbs 14:1)

These days, common sense is not all that common, nor was it in the days of King Solomon. He observed, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.” (Proverbs 14:12–13) We humans tend to go for what looks good up front, what will make us happy, but so often those choices lead to sorrow and even death.

This attitude is common to humanity. Scripture repeated describes those in the days of the Judges in Israel when there was no king and “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6, etc.) This “I will do my own thing” produced chaos then just as it does now.

Our daughter often says, “You can’t fix stupid” and that also is a problem. I shake my head at stories in the news, or Facebook videos of people who acted without thinking and hurt themselves or someone else, but have to admit that I can be foolish too.

So what is the solution? How can I be protected from spiritual danger, even physical danger if education, laws and rules will not do it?

The quote from Lloyd George deserves a second look. He did not say education was a bad thing, but that education without God is a bigger problem than most people realize. The Bible says we can trust all sorts of things, but can any of our idols make promises like these . . . ?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5–7)

Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent . . . put your trust in the Lord . . . In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:4–8)

Trusting God means that I will do what He says, not what “seems right in my own eyes.” If I really trust God, then I will be obedient, and He will be part of my decisions or actions. This never happens because of education or rules, but because God is changing my life. In grace, He has determined to love and care for me just as He promises in Psalm 91:14-16 . . .   

Because (she) holds fast to me in love, I will deliver (her); I will protect (her), because (she) knows my name. When (she) calls to me, I will answer (her); I will be with (her) in trouble; I will rescue (her) and honor (her). With long life I will satisfy (her) and show (her) my salvation.

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