God's Ways Versus Man's Ways
James L. Reynolds
(Isaiah 55) "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. {2} Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. {3} Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. {4} Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. {5} Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. {6} Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: {7} Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. {8} For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. {9} For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. {10} For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: {11} So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. {12} For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. {13} Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."
    From Isaiah 55 there are, as in all of God's Holy Word, a myriad of lessons which could be taught. However this morning we wish to focus our attention on one portion of Isaiah 55. In verses eight and nine of Isaiah 55 the Lord clearly and plainly declares that there is a marked and unfathomable distinction between His ways and the ways of His creatures.
    This morning we would like to take a brief look at some of God's ways and some of man's ways and then take note of the marked contrasts between them.
    The dissimilarities between God's perfect ways and the imperfect ways of His creatures are incomprehensible in their totality by those creatures. However by Holy Spirit enlightenment we may catch a glimpse of the majesty and holiness of God's ways and then be enabled to reflect upon our own sinful and depraved ways. This will allow us, and it should cause us, to see a measure of that immense difference between the two. But, as the redeemed will forever be learning more about their glorious redeemer so they will ever become more and more aware of the immense differences between the creature and their Creator.
    Let us begin our lesson this morning by asserting that God's way is perfect.
(2 Samuel 22:31 / Psalms 18:30) "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him."
    In our Scripture reading in Isaiah 55 and in Psalm 145:17 the Holy Spirit used the word 'ways' and in 2 Samuel 22:31 and Psalms 18:30 He used the word ' way'. Though limitless in number each and every one of God's ways are like unto Him, that being perfect. As the only perfect being in the universe all His ways are in complete harmony with each other and may therefore also properly be referred to as His way. This may be analogous to speaking of God's eternal decrees and using the singular term decree.
    Everything which God does is perfect. It is of no consequence at all if a single creature acknowledges that reality or not. It is still a divinely declared fact that God's way is perfect.
    The total depravity of man becomes glaringly evident when they attempt to question God's ways and sinfully try to evaluate them based upon their own finite and limited knowledge and understanding.
    God's ways are perfect and they are also righteous.
(Psalms 145:17) "The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works."
    Nevertheless to much of depraved and wicked mankind God's perfect and righteous ways seem wrong. Have we not all at one time or another heard someone say, in reference to something that God has brought to pass or something that is contained in His Word, "It just doesn't seem right to me."? Or perhaps they have not been so bold as to actually speak the words that it doesn't seem right to them but have insinuated just as much by questioning God's way and saying something such as, "It seems to me that such and such should be this way". In so speaking they are declaring their opposition to the way that God has decreed it to be on whatever subject or matter is under consideration.
    Isn't it a remarkable and an awesomely frightening reality that much of sinful mankind view the ways of God, which lead to everlasting life, as wrong; yet they view their own sinful ways, that lead to everlasting death, as right.
(Proverbs 14:12 / Proverbs 16:25) "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
    Is it not the epitome of depravity and rebellion for sinful creatures to call God's perfect and holy ways into question? That mere mortals would demand that God give them an account of His actions should be unthinkable to any rational creature. But this is exactly what people do when they say or insinuate that God's ways are not how they think it should be. God is not at all pleased with such sinful rebellion and His Word rebukes such foolish sinfulness.
(Daniel 4:35) "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"

(Romans 9:20) "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?"

    Mankind has no right whatsoever to question any of God's perfect ways. As we previously mentioned, to question any of God's ways glaringly manifests the depraved and sinful nature of the one guilty of such a woeful sin.
    A way or an action of a being, either in word or deed, is the result of the thoughts of that being.
(Matthew 15:18-19) "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. {19} For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:"
    We also see that very principle in our Scripture text. We read in Isaiah 55:8 that the thoughts of man are far below the thoughts of God.
(Isaiah 55:8) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD."
    God's thoughts are high and holy and therefore His ways manifest those high and holy thoughts.
    Man's ways are low and sinful and therefore his ways manifest those low and sinful thoughts.
     We are given a divine, and therefore an accurate, assessment of the thoughts of the antediluvians.
(Genesis 6:5) "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
    Are the thoughts and therefore the ways of modern man any better than those of the antediluvians? We must in shame admit that of course they are not.
    As the Scriptures declare and as God given discernment of humanity reveals, man's thoughts are far below God's thoughts and man can not in his natural state understand the ways of God.
    As the Scriptures declare that God's ways are perfect so it also declares that man's ways, unless directed by God, are imperfect, sinful and wrong.
(Proverbs 21:8) "The way of man is froward and strange: ..."
    Strong defines the Hebrew word here translated ' froward' as meaning 'very perverse'.
    The declaration here is not that man has a tendency to occasionally deviate from a normally good way but that in his very essence and being his ways are diametrically opposed to the ways of God.
    The expression 'diametrically opposed' denotes that one thing is the exact opposite to another. In our present consideration we mean that man's ways are in the exact opposite of, and therefore in opposition to, God's ways. We sometimes hear the expression, 'poles apart' in reference to two things that are so vastly different. Beloved, God's ways and the ways of His creatures, in their natural state, are 'poles apart'.
    We may rightly consider that the ways of mankind are composed of his words and his actions, both of which proceed from his thoughts. As we have already brought to your attention the thoughts of mankind are far below and in opposition to the thoughts of God. Our thoughts are formulated in and emanate from our minds. What is the Scriptural assessment of the minds of natural, that is unregenerate, mankind?
(Romans 8:7) "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
    The Greek word here translated as enmity is defined by Strong as 'a reason for opposition'. It is translated as enmity five times and as hatred one time. The carnal mind is in opposition to the way of God. The carnal mind can not understand the way of God. The carnal mind hates the way of God. And such were all of our minds prior to God's saving grace being manifested to us.
    The way of God is truth in the most absolute and total sense.
(Psalms 86:11) "Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name."
    The Psalmist here declares that he can only walk in God's way if he is taught them. He acknowledges that it is not in the power and ability of mankind to walk in God's ways, that is the ways of truth, unassisted or undirected by God. The lost man has no desire to walk in God's ways and even the saved man can not do so unless aided and directed by God.
(Jeremiah 10:23) "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."
    As we just mentioned the ways of God are the ways of truth and in that instance there is a prime example of how far God's ways are far above man's ways and how man's ways are opposed to God's ways.
    Mankind are by nature liars.
(Psalms 58:3) "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies."
    This does not mean that everything that every person says is a lie but it does mean that every person has on occasion lied! I comparison to God's perfect truthfulness every man is a liar.
(Psalms 116:11) "I said in my haste, All men are liars."
    Of this Scripture and of the natural man's bias towards lying John Gill comments, "The sin of lying is common to man; there is a natural proneness and propensity to it: men go astray from the womb, speaking lies;".
    Yet God is total truth and can not lie.
(Numbers 23:19) "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"
    Here the prophet declares that unlike His creatures who have a natural tendency to lie the Holy Creator will not lie.
(Titus 1:2) "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;"
    Here the prophet declares that it is an impossibility for God to lie. His perfect and holy nature prohibits it.
    As our pastor has pointed out on numerous occasions people err, and that greatly, when they say that there is nothing which God can not do. God can not do anything contrary to His holy and perfect nature. Lying is opposed to that perfect and holy nature and therefore God can not lie.
    Certainly only a depraved and sinful mind would imagine that such wondrous limitations could in anywise diminish the absolutely perfect stature of God. On the contrary such divine and perfect limitations magnify our Lord's majestic and righteous person.
    Having spoken briefly about the marked distinction between God's perfect ways and man's imperfect and sinful ways let us take a few minutes and note how some of religious mankind's ways differ from, and are therefore opposed to, God's ways.
    Note with me if you will that religious mankind including much of the so-called Christian world declares that the everlasting destiny of an individual is determined by that individual's actions and efforts, be they mental or physical endeavors.
    According to the vast majority of 'religious' people God has made provision for the everlasting acceptance of all of His creatures into His presence and it is up to the individual to avail themselves of that universal opportunity.
    There may be much dissension between these folks as to how much a person can do or must do in order to avail themselves of God's offer. But there it total accord and agreement amongst them as they insist that the individual must do something to secure, and in some cases to maintain, that saving relationship with God.
    Mankind's way of salvation is proposed as being contingent upon the creature exercising their 'free will' and choosing the offer that God has supposedly made unto all of mankind.
    But as we have demonstrated from the outset of this lesson there is a marked distinction between man's ways and God's ways.
    Having given a brief synopsis of man's way of salvation let us now look and what the Inspired Narrative declares to be God's way of salvation.
    Firstly note that the Bible declares that salvation is of God and not of man.
    The prophet Jonah declared in Jonah 2:9 that it was not of man but of the Lord.
(Jonah 2:9) "... Salvation is of the LORD."
    Thousands of people this very day are being urged to 'choose Jesus'. Yet our sovereign Lord clearly declared while upon this earth that it was He who does the choosing.
(John 15:16) "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
    Religious mankind, even much of so-called Christendom, says that there are many ways which an individual may utilize to reap the benefits of God's salvation. These may range from some far out method of a cult to one of the many ways of professing Christendom such as baptism, good works or so forth. In this global society which we now find ourselves in we need to be aware that much of the professing religious world do not believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is even one of those many ways to find acceptance with God.
    However, the infallible Word of God declares that the Lord Jesus Christ is not one of the ways to God's glorious salvation but that He is the ONLY way!
(John 14:6) "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
    The false religions of the world have their false prophets which they trust in to gain them acceptance in God's sight. As many false religions as there are in the world so also there are as many false ways.
    Nevertheless, God doe not recognize any name, that is any person, as being acceptable to Him as standing in the place of one needing a substitute before Him but the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Acts 4:12) "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
    The religious world and much of the so-called Christian world propose that there are a multitude of ways in which God's people may serve Him acceptably. Thousands are urged, after making a 'decision' for Christ, to 'join the church of their choice'.
    Also, many professing to have a saving relationship with God see no need for serving Him in the fashion He has decreed that He should be served. And serving the Lord through His church entails much more than having one's name on the membership role.
    When Moses was instructed as to the construction of the tabernacle He was given specific instructions and he was not permitted to deviate from those specific instructions in any measure.
(Exodus 26:30) "And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was showed thee in the mount."
    If God was insistent that He be worshipped in a specific manner by the Israelites, and the Divine Record bears out that He was, what would give anyone the idea that they can just worship Him as they chose in this current dispensation?
    The Bible is a book of instruction for God's people. The Bible instructs by command and the Bible instructs by precept.
(Ephesians 3:21) "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
    The so-called Christian world proposes that individual believers may get together and start a church that is acceptable unto the Lord Jesus Christ and that they may serve Him therein.
    The so-called Christian world proposes that these self initiated churches may get together with mission boards and evangelize the world with divine authority.
     However, again in the Bible's commands and precepts we do not observe it being done in that manner. What we do see is the Lord's properly organized churches sending out missionaries under the authority of that church and then authorizing a new church which is independent of the authorizing church. That new church then sends out missionaries and the process continues in accordance with the Bibles commands and precepts. 
    In the last several minutes we have been focusing on the disparity between the ways of professing Christendom and the ways of God as revealed in His inspired Word.

    Before we conclude this point please consider the ways of religious man on a few more issues. Though they be religious, and though they profess to be recipients of God's saving grace, and perhaps in many cases that profession is valid, the ways of many religious people are opposite of the ways of God and therefore they are in opposition to the ways of God.

    How about the ways of the religious world as they relate to baptism, in its mode, in its recipients, in its administrator and in its purpose. How do those ways of the religious world compare to God's ways on these things?

    How about the ways of the religious world as they relate to the Lord's supper, in its elements, in its recipients and in its purpose. How do those ways of the religious world compare to God's ways on these things?

    The Bible has much to say about God's wondrous and perfect ways. It also has much to say about the ways of His creatures, both those who are in a lost state and those who are in a redeemed state.

    To the rebellious and unsaved sinner God speaks concerning their ways.

(Ezekiel 33:11) "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
    There are many instances recorded for us in God's word where He warned people to turn from their evil ways.
    God sent Jonah to warn Nineveh that He was going to destroy them for their wickedness. The Bible tells us that they repented, turned from their evil ways and God spared them.
(Jonah 3:5) "So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them."

(Jonah 3:10) "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."

    As God warns the lost sinner to turn from their rebellious ways so He graciously warns the saved sinner to turn from their rebellious ways.
    To His elect nation Israel, which is a type of His elect people God gives a warning in Haggai 1:2-11.
(Haggai 1:2-11) "Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built. {3} Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, {4} Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? {5} Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. {6} Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. {7} Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. {8} Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. {9} Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. {10} Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. {11} And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands."
    Please note the admonition of God to Israel, which admonition is applicable to everyone of His precious blood bought saints, that is found in verses 5 and 7.
(Haggai 1:5-7) "Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. {6} Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. {7} Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways."
    God here tells His nation Israel to " Consider your ways."
    The apostle Paul was directed by the Holy Spirit to give an admonition to the Corinthian saints.
(2 Corinthians 13:5) "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"
    The Psalmist desired that God would examine his ways and then reveal unto him where they were in opposition to God's ways and then give him strength to turn from those wrong ways.
(Psalms 26:2) "Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart."

(Psalms 119:5) "O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!"

    Though our ways are by nature in opposition to God's ways He is able to make our ways to be in accord with His ways.
(2 Samuel 22:33) "God is my strength and power: And he maketh my way perfect."
    When a person's ways are pleasing unto God He will bless that person with peace.
(Proverbs 16:7) "When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him."
    May the Holy Spirit grant each of us to have the hearts and minds to examine ourselves, to consider our ways and then to prayerfully and diligently seek to make sure that those ways are in harmony with God's ways.


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