Sunday, October 29, 2023

Sayings of Jeremiah (6) I don’t Have it Within Me

By Ron Thomas
ASV: O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
NET: “LORD, we know that people do not control their own destiny. It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them.”
    Preachers will quote this passage frequently. The congregants, because the preacher quotes it often, can repeat it. What does it mean? Man determines which direction he wants to go, but as the NET reads, the Lord does not grant him the privilege of determining what will happen to him when he does walk the direction he chooses. No one of good sense will purposely seek to destroy himself with his choices, but in the choices, he makes, it’s not possible for him to know where he’ll arrive. He thinks he knows, but that is not the same thing as actually knowing.
    The thrust of the passage is easy enough to understand. Humanity does not have within itself knowledge that can know one’s eternal destination. The only way to know is to gain that information from Him who has that knowledge, He who is in eternity. Since this information is now available, why is it that so many choose to live as if it does not matter what comes from the “mouth” of the Lord? People choose to live the way they do for at least two reasons (cf. John 3:19). First, they live in the present, that is, they judge what is in front of them by what they have been taught and mesh that in with their experiences, then make decisions about how to go forward. Second, they convince themselves God is on their side, and with that conviction or hope they move toward a destination they hope will facilitate a safe landing.
   I am reminded in Psalms 14 the foolish one lives as if God does not exist, the stupid one has conviction that He does not exist. In all cases, the choices made determine the direction walked. One’s arrival at the door of eternity comes much quicker than is realized. Did you not just graduate high school yesterday? How old are you now?
    I am also reminded that many believe (even strongly) in the Lord, but justification is made for the path chosen to walk. “The Lord knows my heart” they will say. Yes, that is true; He knows you have rejected His Son, or you have accepted His Son, but chose a way that is diverted from the Lord’s exact way. In this context, He knows your heart is not with Him. “I don’t live an evil life like so many that I hear and read about” they say. That may be true, but as with them, so with you, the Lord begins with one’s response to Jesus, followed by loyalty to the words of Jesus and His apostles.
    It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps, the Lord said. Let us be reminded, then, of two things: first, Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son (1 John 5:10, ESV). In this context, belief is trust and obedience. Second, If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37, ASV). To acknowledge the authority of the Lord through His chosen servants means one will obey the words written by such men as Paul.
    We don’t have it within us to know the Lord’s way of righteousness. Because of that, those who love the Lord will hear Him and obey from the heart His ways.

- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at

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