One of the common stereotypes of men is that they refuse to read the directions. More of us than are willing to admit it will immediately begin to assemble some item without giving a second thought to the assembly instructions that accompany it. Often, after spending much more time than it should have taken, we finally surrender and turn to the directions to see where we went wrong. Then, having read the instructions, we begin again.
As much as we enjoy making fun of men in this regard, the fact is that we all tend toward this attitude in many areas of life. This is especially the case in spiritual matters. Social media is full of memes that declare the wish that life came with an instruction book. The sad truth is that it does, but most people have tried to live their lives without consulting it.
Our Father in heaven knew before He created mankind that we would be this way. Therefore, He put many warnings and exhortations in His word calling on us to read His instructions for life. When Moses reminded Israel of the Law God had given them, he solemnly warned them to diligently adhere to it, so they could live and prosper in the promised land. In Deut. 6:1-3 Moses said, “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”
This theme is a constant throughout the Old Testament, and it remains so under the covenant of Christ. The Lord Himself declared this fundamental principle at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. In Mt. 7:21 He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” The simple truth of this statement is that God has provided us the instructions for life in His revealed word, and only those who follow His instructions will enter heaven at the end of time.
Many through the centuries have contended that these instructions are incomplete, or unknowable, from the scriptures. However, these contentions are patently false. In Eph. 5:17 Paul called on us to not be foolish but to understand what the will of the Lord is. If the Lord’s will is unknowable, we cannot obey this command. The very fact that Paul commanded it proves that we can understand God’s will.
In 2 Tim. 3:16-17 Paul said that all scripture is inspired by God and equips us for every good work. In 2 Pet. 1:3 Peter said that God has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of the one who called us. These statements assure us that the scriptures are everything we need in order to live life the way God intended us to.
The grace of God and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ offer us redemption for the sins we commit by ignoring or violating God’s instructions for life. This redemption saves our souls, but does not undo the physical consequences of our sins. How much better our lives would be if we chose to follow God’s instructions from the beginning, instead of only turning to them when all else fails!