The Path of Duty

Arthur Pink
May, 1944

Occasionally we receive a letter from one of our readers who is confronted with what he regards as a perplexing situation, involving perhaps the stirring of his nest and a change of circumstances, expressing himself as very concerned to know what is "God's will" for him. Our first reaction is to wonder how far the inquirer has been accustomed to make conscience of pleasing God. If the inquirer is only exercised about the Divine will when some pressing situation or emergency faces him—it is a bad sign, betraying a sad state of soul and making it doubtful whether such a one has been truly converted. Just as being very religious on Sunday—but thoroughly worldly through the rest of the week is to have "a form of godliness" but "denying the power thereof" (2 Tim. 3:5), so for me to be very solicitous about ascertaining and performing the will of God when some crises arises—but to have little regard what He has appointed during the general course of my life—is to place a big question-mark against the genuineness of my Christian profession.

The Most High God is not at our beck and call, to be made use of—only when we are in difficulty. Those who are indifferent to His honor and glory while things are going smoothly and pleasantly for them—are not likely to receive light and help from Him when they face troubles in the evil day. Scripture is too plain upon this matter to be misunderstood, "he who turns away his ear from hearing the Law—even his prayer shall be abomination" (Proverbs 28:9). Of the hypocrite it is said "will God hear his cry when trouble comes upon him" (Job 27:9). No! He certainly will not! "But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you-- when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke—they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes." (Proverbs 1:24-31). Compare Micah 3:4; Zechariah 7:13.

But in sharp contrast from the class mentioned above, there are those who have sought to walk with God and avoid those things which are displeasing to Him—and when some difficulty arises, a parting of the ways suddenly confronts them, an important decision has to be made—and they are anxious to know "what is God's will" for them. It appears to us that frequently these souls needlessly perplex themselves by the way in which they frame their question. It has long seemed to us that confusion of thought is manifested by those who inquire, "How am I to ascertain God's mind for me—when I have to choose between two alternatives?" Yes, that something more than faulty terminology is involved, is evident from the sequel which immediately follows. So far as our own observation goes—the questioner fails to arrive at any clear and decisive answer, being left in a state of doubt and distress, which is neither honoring to God nor comforting for His bewildered child.

Much confusion would be avoided, and much uncertainty prevented, by asking, "Is this, or would that be, according to the Scriptures?" for God's "will" or "mind" is made known in His Word. That is the Rule, the sure and sufficient Rule we are to walk by—and not inward impressions of His secret will. Perhaps the reader replies, "Yes, I know the will of God is revealed in His Word on all spiritual and eternal matters—but it is about temporal things, the affairs of this life, which I am exercised about and over which I often find myself at an uncertainty." But that should not be, dear friend. God's Word is given to us for the express purpose of being "a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path" (Psalm 119:105), that is, our path in and through this world, which, because of its separation and alienation from God, is "a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19). It is wrong, quite unwarrantable, for us to mentally draw a line between spiritual and temporal matters—as though they belonged to separate departments of our life.

The present spiritual life of the Christian is lived out in this world, and it is to actuate and regulate him in all his varied concerns, "whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). The spiritual life is very much more than elevated contemplations, ecstatic feelings, or being engaged only in distinctly devotional exercises—that is the erroneous view taken of it by those who shut themselves up in monasteries and convents. The spiritual life is not a nebulous and mystical thing—but something intensely practical. The spiritual life is to be maintained and exercised by the Christian in the schoolroom, the home, the workshop, as well as in the house of prayer. It is to dominate him in all his relations, in every association with his fellows, setting before them an example of piety, honesty, unselfishness, and helpfulness. In other words, the whole of his conduct is to be ordered by the precepts of Holy Writ—and not by the dictates of self-pleasing, nor by the customs of the world, nor the whims of "public opinion."

In His Word, God has given us rules which are pertinent to every aspect of our sojourn down here, which are to control every detail of our complex lives, so that there is no need for us to wonder, "Is this right?" or "Is that wrong?" We are not left to our own erring judgment, nor that of our fellows, for the Lord has supplied us with an unfailing chart and compass, to direct us in our voyage to the land of glory. The Scriptures not only announce explicit precepts enjoining obedience in detail—but they also enunciate broad principles applicable to every sphere or situation in which Divine providence may place us. Therefore the one question for the saint to be constantly occupied about is, "What does Holy Writ require of me? am I acting in accord with its teachings? Is my motive in harmony with what it demands? Would I be acting contrary to the Divine Rule—if I entered upon such and such a course, adopted this or that fashion, or followed a certain policy, because my competitors do so, or because my employer insists I must." Thereby a multitude of considerations are reduced to a simple and single issue.

What has been pointed out above, may be summed up thus—God's "mind" or "will" for me ever lies in my treading the path of duty. And that there may be no misunderstanding, let us here define our terms. What is duty? The word means "due to," that which I am required to render unto another. The performance of duty is to discharge my obligations Godwards and man-wards—loving Him with all my heart and strength, and my neighbor as myself. It is to render that service which I am naturally or morally bound to perform unto others. More particularly, it is the execution of my responsibilities in the place which I occupy, whether in the home, the church, or the world. The ground of our duty is the Divine command, which is the sole determiner of human responsibility. The end of our duty is the glory of God—the pleasing of Him in the task He has allotted. The present reward of duty is a good conscience, the peace and satisfaction of mind in knowing I have done what is right. The path of duty is the course which Divine providence brings me into, and which the Divine precepts have marked out for me.

It is by the providence of God, that each of us is black or white, male or female, a person of one or of five talents. Yet it is our responsibility to trade with those talents, and if they are put to a good use, more will be entrusted to us. Yet while the providence of God is often an index, it is not the rule to walk by—for that we must turn to the Word. It is in the Scriptures, and there alone, the path of duty is defined for us. Therein it is termed "the path of Your commandments" (Psalm 119:35), which we need to pray that God will "make us go in," for by nature we are not disposed thereto, being born "like a wild donkey's colt" (Job 11:12). Thus the path of duty—is that of full obedience to God. It is "The way of holiness" (Isaiah 35:8) in contrast from "the course of this world" (Eph. 2:2), which is one of expediency or choosing what seems easiest and pleasantest. It is "the way of wisdom" (Proverbs 4:11) in distinction for the by-ways of folly. May Divine grace cause us to persevere therein.

In our above, we pointed out:

(1) that God’s will for us is revealed in His Word;

(2) that His Word is to regulate all our ways and control all our conduct;

(3) that no matter what situation we be in or what emergency may arise—God’s Word is all-sufficient as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path;

(4) that it therefore follows, the path of duty is defined for us in the Divine commandments.

Yet there are some who say that they find it more difficult to discern their duty—than to actually perform it once their duty is clearly perceived. But this should not be. That is tantamount to saying they have no light on their path, that they are in darkness, and surely that is a sad acknowledgment from anyone who professes to be a "child of light" (Eph. 5:8). Did not the Savior declare "he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness—but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). If then I find myself in darkness, must not the fault be entirely mine? Then should I not examine myself and seek to discover the reason of it? "is there not a cause!" Was it because I yielded to the pleasing of SELF and ceased to "follow" Him who is the Light? If so, my duty is plain I must humbly and penitently confess my failure to God and have the wrong put right, or my darkness will deepen.

Perhaps some reader replies, What you have said above hardly covers my case. The perplexity which confronts me is this—I find myself at the parting of the ways, and I am not clear whether I should turn to the right hand or to the left. My situation has drastically changed—the death of a loved one, or some other emergency, has suddenly altered my circumstances. I have to make a decision, and what is for the best I am at a loss to discover. What am I to do?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5,6). Confer not with flesh and blood, for if you consult your Christian friends the probability is that no two will offer the same counsel, and you will be more perplexed than ever. Go to the Lord Himself, acknowledge His Proprietorship over you, mix faith with this promise of His, turn it into definite and earnest prayer and expect an answer of peace from Him, trusting Him for the same.

Consider the case of Eliezer in Genesis 24. His master bade him journey from Canaan to Mesopotamia in search for a wife for his son Isaac. If ever a man was assigned a difficult task it was this one. But his duty was clear, for obedience to his master required him to enter upon this quest. Accordingly we find him setting out on his mission. But observe how he acted. When he arrived at the outskirts of the city of Nahor, he made his camels to kneel down by the well, and then he said "O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham" (v. 12). It was the hour when the maidens came to draw water from the well, so Eliezer asked the Lord to give him a sign whereby he might "know" which of them was the appointed wife for Isaac (v. 14). And the Lord did not fail him—but honored his faith. In the sequel we find Eliezer bowed in worship and saying, "Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not left destitute my master of His mercy and His truth—I being in the way [of duty] the Lord led me" (v. 27). And that is recorded for our instruction and encouragement.

Do not act hastily or impulsively, for God says "He who believes shall not make haste" (Isaiah 28:16). But some reader may reply "I am obliged to make a prompt decision in the matter before me." Even so, if you have been living as becomes a child of God, there ought to be no difficulty, "the light of the body is the eye—if therefore your eye is single, your whole body shall be full of light" (Matthew 6:22). That is a figurative way of saying, if you have an undivided heart, if your dominant aim is the pleasing of God—then your mind will be illumined and able to perceive clearly the path of duty. Perplexity is occasioned by conflicting interests swaying me, when opposing motives seek to actuate me, when the pleasing of SELF comes into competition with the glorifying of God. Keep steadily in view that the thing you have to decide is not which is the easier or most congenial path—the right hand or the left—but which is my duty?

Perhaps you reply—but that is my difficulty—how am I to decide what is my duty? Well, ponder the negative side—it is never right to do wrong, and therefore it can never be the Christian’s duty to do anything which God’s Word forbids, nor can it ever be his duty to enter into any position which would prevent him doing what Scripture enjoins. For example, if one alternative is going into debt—my duty is plain, for Scripture says "Owe no man anything" (Romans 13:8); or if it is to enter into a partnership or any other union with an unbeliever, God’s Word forbids it, "Be not unequally yoked together" (2 Cor. 6:14); or if a Christian mother is ordered to enter a position wherein she could no longer care for her little ones, her duty would be clear, for "train up a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6) is a privilege and responsibility which she cannot delegate unto others.

But suppose the Government should demand from me what is against my conscience, does not Scripture itself bid me "be subject unto the higher powers?" God’s people most certainly ought to be models of law-abiding citizens—righteous and merciful in all dealings with their fellows, doing unto others as they would be done by. They are Divinely enjoined to "render tribute to whom tribute is due," and thus to pay their taxes promptly and unmurmuringly. Nevertheless they must ever remember God’s claims upon them, and never allow the fear of man to prevent their meeting His claims. We are to submit unto the Government so long as its requirements do not clash with the demands of God—but no further. When the king of Babylon issued a decree that all in his dominions should fall down and worship the golden image he had set up—the three Hebrews rightly refused to do so; and when a later king issued an idolatrous edict, Daniel disregarded it; and in each case God vindicated their fidelity to Him. It is never right to do wrong—no matter who commands it—or what may be the emergency.

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." (Romans 13:1,2). Is that an exhortation which requires unqualified submission to the governing power of a country? Does it signify that it is not permissible for the Christian to make any resistance unto magistrates, no matter what may be the nature of the laws they enact?

Some have insisted this inspired injunction is to be taken without any modification. They point out it was given to Christians in the days of Nero, requiring them to be fully obedient unto the Roman emperors even though their edicts were destructive of Christianity itself. But such an understanding of these verses is quite untenable, failing as it does to leave any place for the superior claims of God. Children are commanded "obey your parents in all things" (Col. 3:20), yet if they ordered to steal it would be the child’s duty to disobey them!

The duty of obedience to those in authority, is enforced by Holy Writ—see 1 Peter 2:13, 14. The civil government (whatever its form) is a Divine institution, and therefore to resist magistrates in the exercise of their lawful authority, is disobedience to God. Yet since their authority is only a delegated one, delegated by God Himself—then they transcend their rights if they require anything which is inconsistent with our obedience to God; and when such a case arises, it becomes the Christian’s duty to disobey them.

The "power" to which Christians are bidden to be subject—is a righteous and benevolent one, and not an iniquitous and malevolent one, "he is the minister of God to you for good" (Romans 13:4), but he ceases to be "the minister of God to you" if he demands what is evil. Wives are Divinely ordered to be "subject to their own husbands in everything" (Eph. 5:24), yet if they forbade their wives to read the Scriptures, it would be their duty to disobey them. Wherever human law conflicts with the Divine—"we must obey God rather than men" clearly defines our duty.

"And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it—but it shall be for those—the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein" (Isa 35:8). This is a most blessed though little-understood prophecy and promise. The figure used in the first part of the verse is simple and should occasion no difficulty. It is that of a specially-made road through a wild country or trackless desert, provided for the use of pilgrims and travelers. The making known of the will of God unto us—is here likened to the casting up of a clearly defined highway through a strange land.

The reference is to the state of the Gentile world at the time the Israelitish seer made this prediction. During the days of the Jewish theocracy, the heathen nations were in spiritual darkness and ignorance, being without any written revelation from God. But the incarnation of Christ would entirely alter that awful state of affairs. The people which sat in darkness would see "great light" (Isa 42:6, 7; Mat 4:15, 16). The glorious Gospel would be preached to all nations and the Highway of salvation—the Way which leads unto Life, the "way of peace have they not known" (Rom 3:17), would be clearly revealed unto them.

This Divinely-provided highway through the world is here denominated "the way of holiness." It is so designated because it is appointed by a holy God and brings us to a holy Heaven. It is so designated because it stands out in sharp contrast and separation from all the by-ways of sin. It is expressly said, "the unclean shall not pass over it" (Isa 35:8), the unconverted, the impenitent, the unbelieving have no access to it. Only those who have been cleansed by the atoning blood of Christ have any title to walk in this way, as they are the only ones with any desire to tread the same. Those who traverse this "way of holiness" are termed the "wayfaring men." The Hebrew for this compound "wayfaring" is literally "to go on in the way," which is more informative than the English rendition. It tells us that only those people who are possessed with a true desire and firm determination, will walk therein. The grand requirement for its treader, and that which ensures success therein, is a heart for this "way"—that is, the possession of a love of holiness.

The "wayfaring man" is here termed a "fool." It is generally considered that two things are connoted thereby. First, what he is in himself naturally considered. We are expressly told that among those called of God, there are "not many wise men after the flesh," and if it is inquired why this is so, the inspired answer is, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;" and His reason for that is, "that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Cor. 1:26, 27, 29). In order to magnify the riches of His sovereign grace, God has singled out from among men—the weak, the base, mere "nonentities" or "nobodies" (as is the force of the Greek rendered "things which are not" in 1 Corinthians 1:28) to be the recipients of His highest favors. The great majority of His people are "the poor of this world" (Jam 2:5), poor in its material riches, poor in mental equipment, poor in what the world terms, "natural advantages." Second, the term "fool" describes the wayfaring man as he appears unto the unregenerate, because of his spirituality—the one who seeks to please God rather than self, to live for eternity, rather than time, is a madman in their eyes.

"The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein" (Isa 35:8). The two significations given above of the term, "fool," do not in our judgment exhaust or reach its principal meaning here. There is many a natural dolt who deems himself very wise, many a man of one talent who considers himself fully qualified to hold a position which calls for a person of five talents. Ignorance by no means excludes egotism. The "fool" in the verse before us is not necessarily one whose mentality is of poor quality, nor one who is crazy in the esteem of his fellows; rather, is it a person who has been made a fool in his own eyes. When a miracle of grace is wrought in the soul, that person is humbled into the dust, his self-delight and self-sufficiency receives its death wound, and he is stripped of his peacock feathers. Not only does he perceive that his righteousness or best performances are "filthy rags" in the sight of God, not only does he feel himself to be "without strength" when it comes to doing what God requires of him—but his wisdom appears folly, and all his education and erudition worthless—so far as obtaining a knowledge of Divine things is concerned.

While it is true that "not many wise men after the flesh" (1 Cor. 1:26) are called by God out of darkness into His marvelous light—yet it does not say "not any." There are a few of great natural abilities, of eminent mental endowments, of keen intellectual acumen, who are snatched as brands from the burning. And the change produced in them by regeneration, is as radical and marked as it is in the conversion of the most dissolute character. Such a one was Saul of Tarsus, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and blessed with most remarkable intellectuality. Yet, he became as "a little child," acknowledging he was not sufficient of himself "to think anything as of himself" (2 Cor. 3:5). In other words, he became a "fool" in his own estimation (1 Cor. 3:18), and therefore, one who deeply realized his need of being taught of God. And that is true in every case where regeneration takes place. Its subjects are made conscious of their ignorance. Concerning spiritual things, they feel themselves to be utter dunces, and therefore, their earnest cry to the Lord is, "Teach me what I cannot see" (Job 34:32).

Here, then, is the Divinely-defined character of the man who treads "The way of holiness" (Isa 35:8). He is a "wayfaring man," one who has been given a heart for this way—who desires to tread it. And second, he is a "fool" in his own estimation and valuation—who feels himself totally insufficient to make any progress in this way. Consequently, he is the one who instinctively and sincerely turns constantly to his Guidebook for instruction. He dare not move a pace until he has received directions therefrom. His daily prayer is, "Order my steps in Your Word" and "Make me to go in the path of Your commandments; for therein do I delight" (Psalm 119:133, 35). So stupid does he feel himself to be, yes, even though he has a Doctor of Divinity degree—that he cries, "Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes" (Psalm 119:33). It is not light on the Word he needs, for God’s Word is itself light (Psalm 119:105), but light from the Word, and therefore, does he beg God, "Give me understanding" (Psalm 119:73) and illuminate my sin-darkened heart. Thus and thus alone—does he perceive and walk in the path of duty.

"The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein" (Isa 35:8). Note well, it is something else and something better than "need not err therein" as so frequently misquoted—namely, "shall not." Just so long as he remains a "fool" in his own esteem, and no longer—will he be kept from making mistakes or wandering off into the by-paths of folly. So long as he is conscious that he "lacks wisdom," he will "ask of God" (Jam 1:5). So long as he is conscious of his ignorance, will he value his Guidebook and seek counsel therefrom. So long as he is kept aware of his stupidity—will he pray for enlightenment. And so long as that is the case—he will progress in the way of holiness. But as soon as pride is allowed to work—a spirit of independence and self-sufficiency will take possession of his heart, and though he may still "read the Bible" perfunctorily or as a duty—he will no longer consult it anxious for light on his path, and soon he will "err therein," for "God resists the proud—but gives grace unto the humble" (Jam 4:6).

We have sought to show that in order to tread the path of duty or "way of holiness" there must be:

first, a desire for it—one must be a "wayfaring man"—that is, a man with a heart for that way, a love of holiness.

Second, there must be a sense of our insufficiency—one must be a "fool" in his own estimation—that is, a person possessed of a humble spirit, conscious of his own spiritual stupidity.

Third, there must be a turning to God’s Word for light on our path, for instruction therein, for that Word is the sole Rule of conduct, our Guidebook from earth to heaven.

Obviously, the measure in which the first two things mentioned operate and are really dominant in me will determine the success I shall have in obtaining from the Scriptures the directions I so sorely need, and without which I am certain to "err" in the path of duty. If my desire for light from God wanes, or if I cherish confidence in my own wisdom or "common sense" then, though I may still read the Bible in a formal manner—yet I shall no longer "search the Scriptures daily" (Act 17:11) in a spirit of earnest and prayerful inquiry.

"My son, if you will receive My words, and hide My commandments with you; if you incline your ear unto wisdom [which you profess to feel the need of], and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry after knowledge [of God's will], and lift up your voice for understanding [of your duty]—If you seek her as silver and search [the Scriptures] for her as for hid treasures [sparing no pains]; Then shall you understand the fear of the Lord [which is ‘the beginning of knowledge’ 1:7] and find the knowledge of God" (Prov 2:1-5). It is not to the careless and halfhearted, to whom the promise is made. It is not to the one who is content to please the Lord in merely a general way—that "the secret of the Lord" is revealed. It is not to the prayerless, that wisdom and spiritual discernment are given. He who is largely indifferent to the holy claims of God upon him in times of prosperity, must not expect Him to show the way out of difficulty when a day of adversity overtakes him. It is only those who are out and out for God, and who walk by the precepts of His Word—who have light on their path.

Let us call attention to one other spiritual grace, which is essential if we are to recognize the path of duty and then walk therein, "The meek will He guide in Judgment—and the meek will He teach His way" (Psalm 25:9). Meekness is not to be confounded with humility, for they are quite distinct qualities. This is clear from the words of the Savior who said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart" (Mat 11:29), the Greek word here rendered "lowly" is translated "humble" in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5. There should be no difficulty in discovering the force of this word. To go no further than the verse quoted (Psalm 25:9), the fact that "meekness" is required in order to our being "guided" and "taught" suggests that it signifies a pliant and receptive heart. As humility is the opposite of pride and self-sufficiency, so meekness is the opposite of self-will and stubbornness. It is not the natural virtue which we are here treating of, for that very often approximates closely to weakness—but the spiritual grace of meekness, which is bold as a lion before an enemy, is submissive and obedient before God.

This lovely grace, like all others, appears in its full perfection in the Lord Jesus. Seen in His readiness to be the Covenant-head of His people, in His willingness to assume our nature, in His being subject to His parents during the days of His childhood, in His submitting to the ordinance of baptism, in His entire subjection to the Father’s will, in the whole course of His obedience. Seen when He was "led [not ‘dragged’ ‘or driven,’ but ‘led’ unresistingly] as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isa 53:7).

Thus, it should be evident that there is a real difference between true humility and meekness. Not only are they distinct—but they are not always operative in the same person. One may be humble and yet far from being meek. One may have a real sense of his own ignorance and stupidity, pray to God for light and wisdom, search His Word for the needed direction, and then when those directions are received, disregard them because unacceptable. Unless our wills be truly yielded to God’s, when His will crosses ours—then we shall decline to heed the same.

It appears to the writer, that what has just been pointed out serves to expose the sophistry of those who imagine that it is a more difficult matter to ascertain their duty, than to perform the same once it is perceived. Both experience and observation reveal the contrary. God’s Word is not ambiguous—but written in simple language for simple souls. True, it treats of the profoundest mysteries, which transcend the grasp of every finite intelligence; nevertheless, where it describes the way of holiness and defines what God requires from us—it uses terms so plain that misunderstanding is excuseless. Nor is it because our Guidebook is inadequate: it furnishes full directions and presents a sufficient solution to every practical problem, which may occasion us difficulty.

It is the obedience, which is difficult to flesh and blood, because our Rule so often demands that which is contrary to our natural inclinations. It is because so many fear that to follow the right course would involve them in unpleasant consequences, that they so often turn from it. That is why the Savior said, "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them" (John 13:17). We all know various things, which should be done—but are slow to perform, because the flesh in us finds them distasteful. "The way of the righteous is made plain" (Pro 15:19).

The "righteous" man is he whose heart is right with God and whose conduct is regulated by the "Word of Righteousness." And since his heart is right toward God, he heeds those rules given him for the ordering of his steps—see Proverbs 4:23, 27. Do not expect God to reveal to you the whole path of duty in a moment—rather does He make known one step at a time. As the first step is taken in obedience to His will, He indicates the next one, and the more we yield ourselves to His governance, the clearer light shall we have both within and without. "A good understanding have all those who do His commandments" (Psalm 111:10) because obedience to God delivers from the deceptions of the flesh, and the delusions of Satan. That "good understanding" enables us to apply the general rules of Scripture to the varied details of our complex lives. That "good understanding" preserves us from making foolish mistakes. Because that "good understanding" is formed by obedience to the Divine commandments, it keeps us from acting according to selfish, worldly and carnal motives. And thus, it is that He "leads us in the way of righteousness" (Pro 8:20).

One question, and we must conclude. Suppose I failed at a certain point to render obedience unto the clearly-revealed will of God, and instead in pursuing the path of duty, turned aside into the way of self-pleasing, and now I am eating the fruit of my own folly. Suppose I find that my way has become "hedged up with thorns" (Hos 2:6), so that I know not how to extricate myself. What am I to do? What steps must the backslider take in order to recovery? Why, humbly confess the sin to God—and go back to the very point where you forsook the path of obedience.

Abraham was called to sojourn in the land of Canaan—but when a famine arose, he forsook it and "went down into Egypt to sojourn there" (Gen 12:10), where he got into serious trouble. But later, he went "unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning. . . Unto the place of the altar which he had made there at the first" (Gen 13:3, 4). Do likewise, "Remember therefore from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works" (Rev 2:5).