“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
This indictment of Israel was made during the time of the Judges, following the death of Samson. It is a sorry but accurate description of the nature of man in rebellion against God. It is a graphic description of sin, for what is sin but man doing it his way rather than God’s? It makes no difference if it is out of ignorance or with intent; sin is doing what the sinner chooses to do.
That is the philosophy of the world. The world chooses not to accept the fact that there are absolutes in life. Everything is relative. The consequence is chaos, rebellion, and distrust. These are the opposite of order, harmony, and trust. If there is no objective fixed standard by which one can know what is moral or right and wrong, man is left to do what is right in his own eyes. But there is an objective fixed standard of morality, of right and wrong. It is found in the Scriptures. It is called the Law. On judgment day no man will have an excuse! The Law that exposes sin will condemn everyone whose philosophy of life has been to do what he chooses to do in mocking disdain for God.
The attitude of the world is seeping noticeably into the life of the church. And when faithful Christians or pastors (who by the way have the same intransigent flesh) seek to point it out they become the “bad guys.” They who choose to do what is right in their own eyes will defend their action by saying that the Scripture is outdated, written for another time. A favorite line of defense says, “I can do what I want to do. Don’t try to impose your morality or your understanding of truth on me.” Fair enough. But if one is a Christian, he will want to do what is right in God’s eyes, won’t he? Or will one say, “I know what Scripture says, but…” Or “I don’t care what Scripture says.” Maybe, “I don’t believe the Bible anyway!” One who thinks he is a Christian may speak that way. One who is a Christian will not, and will repent when he does. A Christian cannot exercise safely the option to do what is right in his own eyes, if what is right in his own eyes is sin in God’s eyes!
There is another absolute in Scripture. It is the Gospel absolute. The Gospel is expression of what was right in God’s eyes, as well as in His heart of love and grace. Thank God! The penitent sinner thanks the Lord Jesus Christ that what was right in the eyes and heart of the Savior was in perfect harmony with the will of the Father. Christ Jesus came into the world to bear the sin and guilt of the world. He came to fulfill the Law in man’s behalf, and to die under that Law to pay the debt we owed but could never pay. All this was expressive of what was right in God’s eyes and heart, not because man deserved such love, but because our God is a God of love, mercy and compassion.
He spoke to His beloved Son; ‘Tis time to have compassion,
Then go, bright Jewel of My crown, and bring to man salvation;
From sin and sorrow set him free, slay bitter death for Him that he
May live with Thee forever (TLH 387:5).
The foe shall shed my precious blood, Me of My life bereaving.
All this I suffer for thy good; be steadfast and believing.
Life shall from death the victory win, My innocence shall bear thy sin;
So thou art blest forever (TLH 387:7).
Now then we are saved through faith alone. By grace (Ephesians 2:8,9). As Christians we will glory, not because we do not sin, but because our sin is forgiven. We are saved by the atonement of our Lord Jesus. To Him alone be glory, now and forever.
This Gospel absolute is the comfort of the Christian. But such as teach salvation by works, or who, in other words, teach a conditional Gospel abuse even this absolute. They thus undermine (if it were possible) the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), as well as the grace which creates the life of sanctification
On the other hand, the penitent who with eyes of faith views the Savior bearing the cross, will thank God that Jesus willingly did what was right in the Father’s eyes, so that we might have forgiveness and eternal life. Such will also pray that He daily forgive us our sin, and strengthen us in His grace so that we will gladly do what is right in His eyes— and not in our own!