Advertisements tell us: "You deserve a break today;" and, "Treat yourself to a personal getaway!" even "Pamper yourself; after all, you've earned it!" These ads play on our now-generation instant gratification mindset. Ads tempt us to indulge ourselves in pleasurable, seemingly harmless, things. But in taking on these self centered attitudes, are people walking with God or playing God?
by Jerry Gentry
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise" (Prov. 12:15).
Actually, doing your own thing, that is, living by any standard outside the Bible, is the most popular form of idolatry in the world today. Think about it. It all began in the Garden of Eden, when Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, saying: "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5).
This personal idolatry&emdash;thinking and living as if you are the boss of your own life, playing God&emdash;is found in every home in America. This idol is worshiped morning, noon and night in homes and offices, factories and farms, across the land. Fathers worship at this unholy altar. Moms bow down to this image. Teens love to do homage to this idiot god. Even babies show their commanding, demanding god-like tendency when they scream their orders to parents, letting moms and dads know who really is the boss! Now if one definition of God is boss, then babies also unknowingly play god every day!
Fact is, we are a nation bowed down to ourselves&emdash;our craving lusts, our unyielding appetites, our enslaving habits and demands. In the words of comic character Charlie Brown, "We have met the enemy and he is us!" This "anything goes" national lifestyle of disorder is really idolatry on a grand scale. As long as it doesn't hurt anybody just about anything is considered OK. This way of thinking about life goes by various names: Situation ethics. Humanism. Moral relativism. Self determination. I'm OK, You're OK. Do your own thing. Be cool. Chill out. Etc. Etc.
From the cradle to the grave, we are an idolatrous nation of people, worshipping the very thoughts and ideas and imaginations of our hearts, to our own destruction. Of such, the prophet Jeremiah states: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9).
Ezekiel wrote: "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them?" (Ezek. 14:3). Twice the Bible records: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12; Prov. 16:25). What exactly is that "way which seemeth right?" Simply put, it is the way of following our own thoughts, ideas, imaginations and feelings alone. It is the way of following our unbridled gut instincts. It is the way of living unchecked by God's word. Man's best ideas apart from God have not fared him very well historically.
There were times in ancient Israel when this same moral climate of self determination through moral relativism took the place of walking with God, as today. The Bible records: "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judg. 17:6). Here we find situation ethics, every man doing his own thing, just like today. This "I'm OK, You're OK" philosophy permeates the churches and pulpits of our land. Men reject the authority of God and His holy law/word, which they have conveniently nailed to the cross. This philosophy of "I think, therefore I am" (Descartes) always brings bittersweet results in the end. Like the prophet's little book, which ". . . was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter" (Rev. 10:10), doing the "in thing" with the popular crowd always leads to pain and bitterness in the end. What men sow today, they reap tomorrow. What goes around always comes around eventually. Plow the wind and you are sure to reap the whirlwind in due time. God will write the last chapter to your honor, or to your personal destruction.
All Christian social systems, whether they be nations or churches or families, which adopt this "situation ethics" philosophy end with the God of heaven packing his bags and pushing off. When will we ever learn? The prophet Samuel witnessed this phenomena first hand when: "the word of the LORD was precious [scarce] in those days; there was no open vision" (1Sam. 3:1). Because for sure, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18). The antidote is given in that same Proverb: "but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
"No open vision" is a quaint way of saying God packed His bags and left town, left the country. Who will sound the alarm? Who will trumpet the call? Who will cry out the warning? Or do you prefer to "be cool" and "chill out," while you wait for the rod of God's wrath?
People who have lost their shout, their praise, become "settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil" (Zeph. 1:12). Disaster struck Israel of old many times. Now surely our modern post Christian civilization of the Western World is perishing today for lack of a clear vision from God.
On the surface, this time of "no open vision" (God absent) would seem to be no major problem. However, a little deeper look reveals this to be a major detour, with life threatening consequences. You see, without God and the Bible law/standard to live by, man never succeeds in the long run. Example: The pagan Roman Empire, as did other previous pagan empires, lasted many centuries. However it ultimately ground down, imploded and little by little slowly decayed from within. All the emperor's horses and all the emperor's men, could not put the empire together again. The once mighty Roman Empire ended as a relic thrown onto the political garbage dump of history some fifteen hundred years ago. Yet if you had asked one of the Roman soldiers who crucified Christ to choose which, between Christianity or the Roman Empire, would outlast the other, he would most assuredly have said the Roman Empire! Yet today the pagan idiot gods of Rome are long since dead, and Christianity still thrives!
Perhaps the greatest calling of the Christian today is to learn how to walk with God and let God be God, instead of playing God. Otherwise, even Christians worship the idol of self deception, the idiot god of situation ethics, the false philosophy of self determination. "But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebr. 3:13). Now with our minds we know He is God. But sin deceives us and, in practice, we often fall into the idiot god philosophy of doing what seems right at the time, doing what feels good, treating ourselves to a break today and just getting away from all those Bible standards. We are told: "Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them" (Deut. 11:16), and "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isa. 53:6). Idiot god concepts and false philosophies are carefully devised distractions, even deceptions, designed to throw you, the Christian, off track.
"Yes," you say, "there is no question that we live in a world of following the "god within," the me first philosophy. "What then is the answer to this great dilemma?"
Certain men of old, men of faith, like Enoch "walked with God" (Gen. 5:22). These men knew that doing the popular thing, doing what seemed at the time right to them, would lead to their own destruction. They were men of faith because they believed God and followed his ways, walked with God. They didn't dare try to "be cool," or "chill out," that is, follow their own hearts.
Three times in the New Testament it is written: "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23). When "GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually," (Gen. 6:5), "Noah," another man of faith, "walked with God" (Gen. 6:9) and was preserved through a worldwide flood, while everyone else died. Will you walk with God, or will you die in the coming judgment?
When Samuel was a child, he "did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him" (1Sa 3:7). Yet he responded three times to God's call, by saying: "Here am I" (1Sa 3:1-8), awaiting further instructions from the priest Eli. Samuel walked with God. He knew that "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain" (Ps. 127:1).
Walking with God is the antidote for doing your own thing, playing God. Walking with God presupposes having a working knowledge of God's mind as revealed in His Word. Walking with God means developing a growing friendship and dependency on our Heavenly Father. Walking with God means learning the difference between God's ways and our own feelings. We must train our feelings to be sensitive to God's instruction, which comes through reading His word and through the prompting of the Holy Spirit upon that Word. Walking with God means knowing that the Holy Spirit never leads in opposition to the law/word of God.
Are you walking with God? Or are you playing God? You are doing one or the other, every day, every hour, every minute you live. There is no neutral ground, no "time out" zone, no in-between grey area, no crack to fall through. Because "the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him (2Chr. 16:9). A perfect heart walks with God every day. Only a fool follows his own heart into self destruction. Christians are instructed to "Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces" (Jer. 50:2). The self-serving idol of playing God will be confounded in the coming judgment. Either we walk with God on a daily basis, or we can expect to hear: "I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity" (Luke 13:27). This is a scary thought.
Walking with God versus playing God is the conflict of the ages, the war of all time, the battleground of history. The first step in winning this war is to acknowledge your personal idolatry. If you think you have not worshiped at that altar, then think again. The Bibles says: "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. . . there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Rom. 3:11-12). Man is altogether depraved. Until you, friend, admit the deceitfulness of your own heart, the depravity of your own soul, you are living in a dream world where you are the center of your own universe, the idiot god of your own imagination, no matter your church affiliation. You must come to deplore the deceit, even wickedness, of your personal heart. Then you can begin, through reading the word of God, meditation, and daily application of wisdom, to walk with God and win the battle of the ages.
The hour is late, Christian. Stop playing God and start walking with God!