Summary: Man may believe himself to hold the knowledge to plan and direct his own path, but it is not in him to do so. The way that seems right to a man ends in death. Trust in God to direct your steps.
From the Desk of Pastor Toby Powers
Truth Baptist Church
IT IS NOT IN A MAN TO DIRECT HIS STEPS
Intro: Adam Clarke said about this passage: “I will not pretend to dispute with thee; thou dost everything wisely and justly; we have sinned, and thou hast a right to punish; and to choose that sort of punishment thou thinkest will best answer the ends of justice. We cannot choose; thou hast appointed us to captivity; we must not repine: yet, let not the punishment be to the uttermost of the demerit of the offence; else we shall be brought to nothing-totally and irrecoverably ruined.” Jeremiah speaks this in response to the reality that judgment is coming on the Jews is Jerusalem. He admits that God knows best, but I am interested in verse 23. Man thinks he knows best, but it is not in him to direct his own steps. Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25 both say, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Man has long tried to direct his steps to his own detriment. Adam did in the garden, and judgment fell on him with all his decedents inheriting that same haughty sin nature. And ever since Adam man has tried to direct his own steps, maneuver about his own sin, and measure up to and figure out God in his own way. But man is no match for sin, and man’s way will end in death. Let me use a few examples:
I. SAMSON TRIED TO OUT-MUSCLE SIN: Judges 13:24-25, “And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.” God moved on him and he was blessed, yet the very next verse, he began to direct his own path: Judges 14:1, “And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.” He sought after this woman and married her, but he lost her before he ever even spent one day with his wife before he lost his home to a man that was supposed to be his friend. You would think he would have learned, but in after fighting the whole nation by the help of God, he spent the night with a harlot in Judges 16. In Judges 16:4 he began to date another Philistine woman named Delilah who sold him out. Judges 16:20, “And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.” He came to a terrible end. There is not enough muscle to out-muscle sin
II. SOLOMON TRIED TO OUTWIT SIN: Ecclesiastes 1:12-14, “I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Sought wisdom and folly, built houses and ponds, planted trees, got servants, earned gold and silver. Ecc 2:9-15, “So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done. Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness. The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all. Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.” He tried to have wisdom enough to figure it all out, but in all his wisdom, he fell into idolatry. He was like men today (II Tim 3:7). He learned, however, that serving God and obeying him was ll that mattered. Ecc. 12:9-14, “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”