Biblical Simplicity Reestablished
“Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”
The Christian walk is often one of reestablishing many things for which we formerly had contempt. It’s taking what we’ve tried to change and reapplying it simply, walking within this. We are prone to complicate things precisely because we will not accept the simplicity in them. We fail to realize where we have contempt upon things precisely because they are already established and we believe they must be more complex.
Our culture today is full of this belief that the unraveling of reality is the way to “truth”, that only within looking past the simplicity of things will we find meaning and true enlightenment. Our world seeks to replace all that God has established, replacing it with our own forms of these things. In place of God’s morality we have man’s, in place of God’s justice system we have man’s, in place of true religion we have all of man’s, in place of the one true God we have man’s, in place of God’s commandments we have the commandments of men (Matt 15:9).
In man’s eyes these things are all justifiable, and he misses how these things come from his own fallen heart. He is the one who does this corrupt work, and it is precisely the fact that he thinks the evil he does is good that proves him to be fully fallen, not innocent (Prov 14:12). To his natural eye this all seems reasonable, and exactly because it seems reasonable to him, he misses just how wicked it is—how wicked he is. That is because all of these things, while looking good in man’s own eyes, are actually evil because they oppose the truth. It really matters very little what a person thinks to be good when what he does is evil. Fallen man thinks it is reasonable to question or deny the existence of God and yet God exists more fully than anything in this world. It matters very little then how a person merely perceives their own sin, the facts are that man is most wicked in doing this.
It is precisely this fallen nature within us that rejects what is true and seeks to reinvent what is already established. Just as man does this with God Himself, so man does this with what is firmly fixed by God. God has fixed a way for us all to live, to deal with sin, to have relationship with Himself, and God has fixed Himself as King over this world. Man takes even the simple, clear things of God and changes them to suit himself. It is in rejecting these things, seeking to change these things, that we are found rebellious sinners.
Man fails to comprehend that which is already firmly fixed by God, and he has contempt upon these things, viewing them as archaic, dull, legalistic, cruel, or empty. Again, man perceives these things this way out of his own heart and mind, this view coming from himself, in opposition to what is true about them in the first place. Since man perceives these things to be so worthless, he also judges God as being evil, His ways evil, His judgements evil, and His commandments evil.
It is from this that man begins trying to recreate all these things in his own image. Man will never succeed in this. These things are fixed by God. As firm as the Earth’s gravity is fixed in place, being a law of nature, so are the ways and word’s of God. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matt 24:35) Gravity is a law of nature and no one would think to try to truly change it; similarly, the commands and ways of God are spiritual laws, just as firm and irrevocable. The fact that we are fallen means that we are dead to the truth of these things, dead to the Ruler of these things being God. In one sense we are completely unaware of these things, and in another, as we become slightly aware of them, we seek to use them for our own glory rather than turning to God, the Maker and Ruler of all. But we also try to change these things to make room for our own desires, because the law of God leaves no room for our sins.
How does man show contempt for the simplicity of God's design? It can be seen everywhere. We have contempt upon God's design for marriage; we pursue lusts outside of it or we corrupt God’s design even while within it. We have contempt upon God’s very simple system of justice: punish the offender and give justice to or acquit the innocent. Rather than accepting this we try to undo God’s judgement and call it “mercy”, failing to realize that our attempts at this bring harm upon ourselves and others, while those who do evil go free. We even show contempt upon living simply. The world today professes to be coming back towards simplicity, and yet they come back to it without any acknowledgement to God or repentance for how they lived before. And still, they do not throw aside the selfish ambition and conceit that complicates their lives in the first place. They want simplicity and yet they will not truly find it because they do not obey God. They want to have peace without seeking it in the first place. “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Ps 34:14)
Man today has contempt upon the lowly life that we are called to live, one in which we serve God, obey Him, and love our neighbor as ourselves. We cast God’s ways behind our backs only to find that we’re desperate for them later. Yet the greatest failure of a person’s life is where they see this need and yet they do not acknowledge that God is right in these things, and they do not repent to Him and turn to Him for these things. Instead they run after these things, still casting contempt upon God, even blaming Him for their own failures. “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.” (Prov 19:3) And such a person fails to see how their own sin, their own foolishness, selfishness, and pride brought them to such places, and they repent of their sin, trusting in Jesus Christ.
Today we love to complicate things. This happens not because we plan to complicate things but exactly because we plan to replace things. We seek to replace systems of justice all the way to simple Bible reading and prayer. We fail to realize that it is the man within, not the system without, that is in need of being changed. The man without bucks at the system of justice, Bible reading, and prayer, and our fight is to bring this man into submission to the things of God, not to bring these systems into conformity to this man. We too easily imagine that we’re doing good when we’re on the wrong side of this fight. Indeed, it is often these very false ideas that we hold most precious and believe to be righteous!
The Christian must learn to no longer have contempt upon the ways of God. It is the great shame upon the church today that she continues in such contempt rather than within repentance. Obsessing over nuance and exceptions and complexities, she fails to understand the significance of and need for reestablishing ancient systems such as justice done simply, living a quiet life, and making God the center. We have to remove the chaotic desire in us that tries to overcomplicate very simple truths, and learn how to love these and live in them.
October 30, 2020