The past two weeks we have seen that in baseball, no matter the level of competition, from Little League to the Major League, there is always one unchanging fact: home plate is 17 inches wide. The standard is never changed to make it easier for the players. They must abide by the same standard. They do not widen the plate if the pitcher is having trouble getting the pitch over the plate or narrow it because the batter chooses not to swing. Home plate always remains the same.
This week we are going to continue to use Psalm 119: 1-8 as our Scripture text. When one reads this great chapter of the Bible, we find that it describes the Word of God and the standards that God’s Holy Word sets forth for man to follow. Let us walk though those eight verses and be reminded of what they tell us.
In verse 1 we are told that man can be happy or blessed only when he allows the law of the Lord to lead him and he is not defiled by the world’s teachings. Verse 2 tells us that we are blessed or happy when we follow the teaching of the word of God and allow it to determine our lifestyle choices. Verse 3 teaches that when we are walking in the ways of God, we will not seek to live in sin. Verse 4 teaches that God has commanded that we keep His Word with diligence. Verse 5 teaches we must seek to allow the Word of God to guide our steps through this world. Verse 6 lets us know that if we live by His Word, we will not be ashamed when we stand before Him at judgment. Verse 7 encourages us to praise the Lord as we learn more about what His Word says to us. Lastly verse 8 teaches that when we know what the Bible says, we will have a desire to follow it faithfully.
In these articles we have been looking at the Bible as our home plate or the standard that is to be used to call the balls and strikes of life. It is not to be changed or widened because we have sin in our lives that we want to rationalize. We are looking at four areas where man has tried to widen the plate of God’s standards to conform to his way of living with the world’s standards instead of allowing God’s word to transform him. In our last lessons we have discussed widening the plate in our homes and in our government. Let us look at another area today.
We have widened the plate in our churches. We have churches and denominations that are allowing public opinion and man’s ideas to guide their teaching instead of the Word of God. In a business meeting of a church several years ago, there was some discussion about practices within the church. A man stood up and addressed the leader of the meeting and said, “The Bible says…,” and the leader stopped him and said, “Sit down; we do not care what the Bible says.” Sadly, we are living in a society where many churches and denominations do not care what the Bible says, they are going to do what is right in their own eyes.
People do not like to hear a message that tells them they are wrong. We have lost the conviction that the Bible teaches, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We are living in a society that proclaims one can determine for themselves what is right and wrong. During the time of the Judges, it records that “men did that which was right in his own eyes.” As a result, sin was rampant, and the tragic consequences were widespread. God sent His wrath and judgment on those people. God has not changed; He still judges sin. People today say that God is love and he would never allow wrath to fall on me, my family, or our churches. We must keep in mind that God is holy; therefore, he allowed wrath and judgment to visit His chosen people of Israel. You and I today are not going to be exceptions to His holiness.
Churches today are tolerating and embracing attitudes, ideas, and behavior the Bible says are sinful and, in many cases, promoting those sinful lifestyles. God made Israel His mouthpiece to the world to share His Word and they turned their back on Him and accepted the teachings of the world instead. As a result, God sent judgment on Israel. Today He has given the privilege of sharing His Word, without compromise, to the Church. The Church now is trying to widen the plate and move away from the standards of God’s Word. Then we wonder why we are not making an impact on society. We must also beware God will send judgement for compromising and watering-down His word.
Churches have become a place where people are no longer told, men have a sinful nature, and we need the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts. Instead, way too often we are told how good we are and that in our own efforts we can come into His presence without His grace transforming our nature. The truth is we are all sinners who need a Savior and who need direction in daily living from the Word of God. The steps of a righteous man are to be guided by the Lord.
Let us stop widening the plate in our churches.