Who Says it’s Right? Story of the Book # 3

July 19, 2015

“Who Says it’s right?”  Judges 17:6
Begin with reading
from “Through the Looking Glass”
“What a
beautiful belt you’ve got on!” Alice suddenly remarked. (They had had quite
enough of the subject of age, she
thought: and if they really were to take turns in choosing subjects, it was her turn now.) “At least,” she corrected herself on second thoughts, “a beautiful cravat,
I should have said — no, a belt, I mean — I beg your pardon!” she added in dismay, for Humpty Dumpty looked thoroughly offended, and she began to wish she hadn’t chosen that
subject. “If I only knew,” she
thought to herself, “which was neck
and which was waist!”
Evidently
Humpty Dumpty was very angry, though
he said nothing for a minute or two. When he did speak again, it was in a deep growl.
“It is a
— most—provoking– thing,” he said
at last, “when a person doesn’t know
a cravat from a belt!”
“I know
it’s very ignorant of me,” Alice said, in so humble a tone that Humpty Dumpty relented.  “It’s a cravat,
child, and a beautiful one, as you say. It’s a present from the White King and
Queen. There now!”
“Is it
really?” said Alice, quite pleased to find that she had chosen a good
subject, after all.
“They
gave it me,” Humpty Dumpty continued
thoughtfully, as he crossed one knee
over the other and clasped his hands round it,
“they gave it me — for an un-birthday present.”
“I beg
your pardon?” Alice
said with a puzzled air.  “I’m not
offended,” said Humpty Dumpty.
“I mean, what is an un-birthday present?”  


“A
present given when it isn’t your birthday,
of course.”
Alice considered a little. “I like
birthday presents best,” she said at
last.   
“You
don’t know what you’re talking about!” cried Humpty Dumpty. “How many days are
there in a year?”
“Three
hundred and sixty-five,” said Alice.  
“And how
many birthdays have you?”   “One.”
“And if
you take one from three hundred and sixty-five,
what remains?”    
“Three
hundred and sixty-four, of course.”
Humpty
Dumpty looked doubtful. “I’d rather see that done on paper,” he said.  Alice couldn’t help
smiling as she took out her memorandum- book,
and worked the sum for him:
365
–   1   
364
Humpty
Dumpty took the book, and looked at
it carefully. “That seems to be done right –“ 
he began.
“You’re
holding it upside down!” Alice interrupted.
“To be
sure I was!” Humpty Dumpty said gaily,
as she turned it round for him. “I thought it looked a little queer. As I was
saying, that SEEMS to be done right
— though I haven’t time to look it over thoroughly just now — and that shows
that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday
presents.”
“Certainly,” said Alice.
  

“And only ONE for birthday presents,
you know. There’s glory for you!”

“I don’t
know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said.
Humpty
Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s
a nice knock-down argument for you!’”
“But ‘glory’
doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,’”
Alice objected.
“When I use
a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in
rather a scornful tone, “it means
just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The
question is,” said Alice,
“whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The
question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that’s all.”
It seems pretty silly doesn’t it?  “When I use a word it means whatever I choose
it to mean.”  What would life be like if
there was no absolute, no certainties?  Nothing to measure oneself by.  The Bible tells us that there was a time just
like that when people measured themselves by themselves.  In the book of Judges
17:6
 In those days Israel had no king;
all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.
Sound familiar?  Would almost remind you of 2015 wouldn’t
it?  Where everybody does whatever seems
right in their own eyes.  Like Humpty
Dumpty they have defined morality and right to mean what they want it to mean, regardless of what it really is.
This is our third
week of The Story of the Book series and we are now in what is traditionally referred
to as the “Historic books”, or some call it “The Early Prophets”.  More specifically we are in the book of
Judges, which is the seventh book of the Old Testament.
Last week we peeked
into the Pentateuch, the first five books of the bible, and they end with the
people of Israel returning to Canaan after having spent 400 years in Egypt, the
last of those years as slaves.   Now the
Israelites have returned home and the next twelve books of the bible chronicle
the rise and fall of the nation of Israel.
These books include Joshua,
Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra,
Nehemiah, Esther.
  These
books were written by Joshua and the Prophets Samuel, Ezra and Nehemiah 1390 BC
and 480 BC.
These books take us
on a rollercoaster ride.  It shows  us what happens when God’s people rebel and
allow their society to slide into moral decay,
which should be a warning for Canada
in 2015.  But the good news is that it
also shows the grace of God and how he is willing to reach out when people
repent and ask for forgiveness.
Throughout the
Historical books we see the repeated cycle of Israel’s relationship with God. 1) God’s blessing 2) Spiritual Complacency
3) Idolatry 4) Suffering at the hands of their enemies 5) Repentance 6) God’s
deliverance
Part of the downward spiral that Israel seemed to find
herself in way too often is identified by the phrase that we find in in   Judges 21:25 &
Judges 17:6
 In those days Israel had no
king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.
So what lessons do we learn from this,
today July 19 2015? 
Throughout history people Have Justified their Actions  1) Some Justify their Actions 
If I was to ask you
to list the most hated or feared people that you could think of either real or
fictional I wonder who they would be?  For
over thirty years, beginning in 1970, thousands of
international visitors at Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London England were asked
to name which person, past or present, real or fictional they hated or feared
the most. 
The name that has topped the list the
most number of times has been Adolph Hitler, but have included Osama Bin Laden,
Idi Amin, Richard Nixon, Margaret Thatcher, Jack the
Ripper, Count Dracula and then in 2005 Liam Gallagher front man for the British
rock band Oasis joined the group.
Now I don’t know
about Dracula & Gallagher, but I would suspect that if you asked the other six
 people on the list they would tell you
that they were right in what they were doing.  
Had you interviewed, Hitler, Idi Amin,
Nixon or Osama Bin Laden they
would have embarked on an eloquent defence of their actions hoping to convince
you that their motives were pure.
When the war crime
trials were held in Nuremburg following WWII most of the defendants were
unrepentant.  Time and time again they
reiterated their belief in the rightness of their cause,
they truly believed that what they were doing was right,
but was it?  Or were they simply doing
what was right in their own eyes?
During the early
history of the United States, up until only 150 years ago the economy of the
southern states was built upon the back of black forced labour.  Originally,
slavery was seen as a neutral thing,
a necessity.  Perhaps a necessary evil, but it was evil. 
Slowly the argument begin to change and its supporters began to defend
it as a positive good, some even
supported and defended slavery using the Bible. 
Abraham Lincoln Made this statement : The question recurs,
what will satisfy them?  What will
convince them?  This and only this, cease in calling slavery wrong and join in calling
it right.  And this must be done
thoroughly, done in acts as well as
in words.  Silence will not be tolerated
and we must place ourselves avowedly with them holding as they do, that slavery is morally right and socially
elevated.  They cannot cease to demand a
full national recognition of it, as
a legal right and a social blessing.  All
they ask we could readily grant, if
we thought slavery was right.  All we ask
they could readily grant, if they
thought slavery was wrong.”  The
slave holders not only refused to admit that owning another human being was
morally wrong but they vigorously defended it as being morally right.  They were doing what was right in their own
eyes.  When I read this I thought of the social
mores about today and how in the past it was expected that the church would
take a stand on morality, but no longer. 
The question recurs, what will satisfy
them?  What will convince them?  This and only this, cease in calling sinful
behaviour wrong and join in calling it right. 
Look down though the
scope of time, Stalin’s purges and
executions, the holocaust, the Spanish inquisition,
the crusades, the Roman Persecutions, and the literally thousands of other events in
human history which were horrible,
inexcusable annihilation of human life or dignity and they were defended as
right and proper in the eyes of those who performed them. 
Think about the trial
of Jesus Christ, and if you were to
ask Pontius Pilate why he executed the son of God,
he might have spoken about the pressure,
the indecision, the indifference, but I would suspect that what he would have said
was “I did what was right,
I did what had to be done.”  If we
could ask Judas why he betrayed Jesus I’m sure that his answer would be, “I did
what I thought I had to do.”  They did
what was right in their own eyes.
How Many Of Those Whose Moral Behaviour We Deplore Today Can Rationalise
Their Behaviour?  2) Some Rationalise
Their Behaviour     
Often you hear
preachers say that we are at an all-time moral low in human history, which is
unfair and untruthful, man has stooped this low and lower before.  It would however be both correct and truthful
to say that our moral condition is in serious trouble.  As we look around in 2015 we must agree that
within our Canadian Culture and mindset that we as a people are having problems
distinguishing between right and wrong. 
It would be fair to say that Canadians are doing what is right in their
own eyes. 
We have taken the
heritage which our fore fathers gave us and we have traded it for a hedonistic, narcissistic,
outlook on life.  If it won’t benefit me, if it won’t make my life more comfortable, if I don’t reap immediate positive results from it
then I’m just not interested.  Like the
hedonist of the past Canadians have become convinced that pleasure is their
chief goal.  Regardless of what it costs, regardless of who it hurts,
regardless of what we have to sacrifice,
pleasure is the ultimate pursuit.
Like Narcissus of
old who fell in love with his reflection in the pool,
we the people of 2015 have become captivated with ourselves.  If the sixties were a decade of rebellion,
and the seventies were a decade of apathy and the eighties were a decade of
greed and the nineties were the decade of “ME”,  this new millennium doesn’t seem
to be getting any better. And just as Narcissus all-consuming
love spelled his eventual destruction when he fell into his reflection and
drowned, so our self-love will eventually destroy our Canadian society if we
let it.
Slowly as we become
less and less concerned with others and more and more captivated with ourselves
the very fibre of what make our country great will begin to rot and fall
away.  It’s that concern with me, for my happiness,
my future, my pleasure that leads us
to the place that we stand today.  To a
place where four out of ten marriages will end in divorce.  And if you were to ask the thousands of
people a year who are handed a Decree Absolute “Why?”  They would tell you over and over and over
again “The reason I got a divorce was that I was not happy.”  Now they might phrase that differently, they might say,
“I wasn’t being fulfilled as a person” or “My needs weren’t being met.” but it
all boils down to “I wasn’t happy”
Now I checked the
vows and they say “To have and to hold,
from this day forward, for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish, til death do
us part, according to God’s Holy
Law.”  Nothing in there about “until it
stops being fun” or “Until I’m no longer happy.”
Perhaps you’ve
wondered where the Wesleyan Church stands on the divorce issue.  Good question,
I’ll try to give you a good answer although I’ve tended to alienate people on
both sides of the debate through the years. If adultery has been committed,
then in line with Matthew 5 there are Biblical grounds for divorce. Now that is
my stand for believers.  However for
non-Christians you really can’t expect them to live a Christian life without
Christ in their life.  And I personally
believe that if there is a divorce in someone’s past that when they become a
Christian that it is one of the things that Christ forgives.  Luckily God is bigger than most of us are
willing to admit.  By the way if you have
problems with my stand, then give me a call and we’ll talk about it, but the
proper place isn’t at the door when the service is over.
The problem remains
though that the desire for happiness no matter what the cost gives us rational
to break the marriage covenant no matter what. 
If you talk to those who commit adultery they will justify and they will
rationalise, they will tell you how
their spouse wasn’t meeting their needs,
how they were hard to live with, how
they were critical, how they had no
time for them and didn’t understand them. 
They will tell you how the other person was a tempter or a temptress and
seduced them.  But it is very doubtful
that they will ever mention the real reason and that is self and the need to
satisfy self.  In most cases they have
done what was right in their own eyes.
Talk to a criminal
and he’ll either rationalise his behaviour or try to justify his crime.  He’ll blame it on society, or poverty or a broken family or a bad
environment.  He’ll blame everything and
everyone but himself.  Look at Paul Bernardo, his lawyer said that he was “Driven by desires for
young girls. . .” on the other hand Karla Homolka claimed that she was a
battered wife who was blackmailed into helping her husband.
I’ve told you before
about my conversation with one of my professors at college, When I told him I really wanted to be in a class
that I had miss Dr. Kanzelmar’s response has
shaped my philosophy of life it’s very simplistic too simplistic I know but I
wish that Joe Kanzelmar could look at all the Paul Bernardo’s & Karla
Homolka’s and Timothy McVeigh’s and tell them that same thing because he nailed
me when he said “Denn you do what you want to do”
In the book of  Ezekiel 23:37the prophet decries the evil that the people of his
day had committed because he says  Ezekiel 23:37  They have committed both adultery and murder—adultery
by worshiping idols and murder by burning as sacrifices the children they bore
to me. Three thousand years later
it’s just the characters that have changed,
it’s no longer the god Baal that the children are being sacrificed to instead
it is the twin god’s of pleasure and convenience.  But for all the differences the sin remains
and we can call it whatever we like but God calls it murder.  Of course those of the Pro-Choice persuasion
would try to convince us that it’s a service to humanity and not crimes against
humanity and so like Humpty Dumpty their words mean whatever they want them to
mean.  And so again the individual is not
to blame, and if they get pregnant
then it’s society obligation to make sure that they stay happy even if it cost
the life of an innocent one.  After all
they are doing what is right in their own eyes.
Why has the church
failed to come to grips with the ethical questions of this new millennium?   Hang onto your seat because the reason is
once again this concept of self-gratification. 
We are doing what is right in our own eyes.  We don’t want to appear critical, we don’t want to be labelled as judgmental and we
fear that people will think that we are radicals.  Our reputations mean more than our
beliefs.  And the thought of people
calling us legalist why that’s enough to make us cringe.  But if being a legalist  means upholding the law of God then we should
want to be legalists.  Right? 
“But” you say “At
least the world respects us, right?”
 Don’t count on it.  The world expects the church to take a stand
against some things even if it’s a stand that the world is opposed to.  But we are content to do what is right in our
own eyes.
How Many of Us Who Constantly “Fall Short Of the Glory of God” Defend Our
actions?  3) Some Defend Their Shortcomings
You know what I’m
talking about, you’ve accepted Jesus
as Saviour, but you’re really not
all that sure about this Lord stuff. 
There are areas in your life where you continue to “do what is right in
your own eyes.”  As a result you’ve never
completely sold out to God and when you are not serving God 100 % then you are
serving the greatest idol of them all, the idol of self.  But you can’t simply take Jesus Christ as a
fire escape from hell and continue to worship at the shrine of self. 
You can usually
recognise those areas in your life by the neat defences you construct.  I knew a lady once who was a little on the
heavy side, actually she was a lot on the heavy side and she let everyone know
that it wasn’t her fault, that she tried to control her weight but nothing
seemed to work.  “I
can gain weight by just thinking about food.” but if you watched her eat
it became very apparent that it wasn’t her thought life that kept her fat.
You see I can always
excuse my excesses in eating and I can convince myself that I’m supposed to be
heavy, after all I’m big boned, I was a big baby,
I have an exceptionally efficient metabolism,
that I have a glandular problem.  And as
long as I can think up excuses I will never solve my weight problem.  But it’s when I stop deceiving myself, stop doing what is right in my own eyes and
realize that my weight problem is a because of a lack of the “D” word, that’s right discipline. 
The same lack of
discipline that allows people to have drinking problems,
the same lack of discipline that keeps people from quitting smoking, the same lack of discipline that allows people to
cheat on their husbands and wives.  When
I see my eating habits and fitness habits as an area of my life that needs to
be brought under the lordship of Jesus Christ,
then I start to see success.
But maybe that isn’t
the area of your life that you have problems with,
although there are a lot of people who throw stones at the overweight who are
no more disciplined but just have a quicker metabolism. 
Remember you can
probably identify whatever you struggle with by the amount of energy you spend
defending that particular action. 
Christians defend their social drinking,
Christians defend their smoking,
Christians defend their anger, and
Christians defend their immoral behaviour. 
I have heard Christians defend areas of conduct from non-attendance of services,
to sexual immorality and they can do it quite well.  but you know I don’t think that they are
trying to convince me, and I’m
pretty sure that they are not trying to convince God,
but I’m almost positive that they are trying to convince themselves.
When someone tells
me, “I think I can do ________ and
still be a Christian” then I figure that the Holy Spirit is dealing with them
in that area and their actions and their excuses seem much more plausible and
believable when they are verbalised to someone else.
Listen up, no matter how good your reasoning and rational
might seem today, if God calls it
sin then it is sin.  We need to make sure
that as Christians we never slide into the category of “Doing
what is right in our eyes.”  That
we never defend our actions with the attitude “Whenever
I use a word, it means whatever I
choose it to mean,” said Humpty
Dumpty Scornfully. 
It is only when we
allow our lives to be governed by the book, the word of God, only when we put
our lives in subjection to God’s will that we be in a position that our will
and God’s will are the same.  Which is
why Jesus taught us to pray “Your will be done on earth as well as heaven.”
As long as we serve
our will and our desires we will be out of step with God.
Instead of Judges 17:6 applying to you wouldn’t you like to
be described in the same way as Josiah in 2 Kings
22:2
 He did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight and followed the example of
his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.