“Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:21)
God and God alone is the only being qualified to determine what is good and what is evil; what is righteous and what in unrighteous. God does not merely know right from wrong and thereby he is qualified to judge what is right and what is wrong, No that’s not it at all… God does not simply know right from wrong, but He determines what is right and what is wrong. There is a big difference as… There is but one Law Giver… God and God Alone! A sinful act is wrong simply because God has said so and on the other hand a good thing is right and acceptable simply because God has said so.
This truth is foundational to the Christian Faith; The Word of God is Our Only Rule of Faith! Those who forget this truth will slide into one or the other of the deep ditches that run along each side of the straight and narrow path.
Both the “Religious Liberal” and the “Religious Legalist” are guilty of the same sin. Although they may detest one another, actually they are both in the same camp in that they are both guilty of being “wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sigh.” Both the Religious Liberal and the Religious Legalist are guilty of attempting to replace the Wisdom, Will, and Word of God, with the wisdom, will, and words of mere men… And let us not mince words here; the Bible pronounces a “Woe” (that is a curse) upon them both!
On the left hand side of the straight and narrow path is the deep ditch of Religious Liberalism; and those who fall into this ditch are those who “say concerning evil, it is good… that put darkness for light… that put bitter for sweet”.
Writing on the Religious Liberalism of the Sadducees J.C. Ryle says “The doctrine of the Sadducees may be summed up in three words: free-thinking, skepticism, and rationalism. So far as we can judge from the New Testament, they appear to have held the doctrine of degrees of inspiration… They believed that there was no resurrection, no angels, and no spirits, and tried to laugh men out of their belief in these things, by bringing forward difficult questions. And in this way they probably hoped, by rendering religion absurd, and its chief doctrines ridiculous, to make men altogether give up the faith they had received from the Scriptures. The practical effect of their teaching was to shake men's faith in any revelation, and to throw a cloud of doubt over men's minds, which was only one degree better than infidelity. And of all such kind of doctrine: free thinking, skepticism, rationalism, our Lord says, "Be careful and be on your guard."
On the right hand side of the straight and narrow path is the deep ditch of Religious Legalism; and those who fall into this ditch are those who “say concerning good, that it is evil… that put light for darkness… and sweet for bitter”.
Writing on the Religious Legalism of the Pharisees J.C. Ryle says “The doctrine of the Pharisees may be summed up in three words: they were formalists, tradition-worshippers, and self-righteous. They attached such weight to the traditions of men that they practically regarded them of more importance than the inspired writings of the Old Testament… they did not formally deny any part of the Old Testament Scripture. But they brought in, over and above it, so much of human invention, that they virtually put Scripture aside, and buried it under their own traditions. This is the sort of religion, of which our Lord says to the Apostles, "Be careful and be on your guard."
In light of the recent actions of the Florida Baptist Conventions total alcohol abstinence policy and the Missouri Baptist Conventions axing the ACTS 29 churches it would do all Southern Baptist well to remember that those who set themselves up as the Law Givers, be they the much hated Baptist Liberal of the pre-Conservative Resurgence, or the much loved Baptist Legalist of the post-Conservative Resurgence, they are both alike “Cursed by God”.
There is but one Law Giver… God and God Alone! This is the meaning behind the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura and the Southern Baptist principle of the Inerrancy of the Scriptures:
We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience… (from the Cambridge Declaration)
I. The Scriptures
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. (BFM2000)