Deuteronomy 12:8 says, “Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.”
Judges 17:6 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
Judges 21:25 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
There are only a few times in the Bible when a statement is made just three times. The previous Scriptures are one such instance. Every man did that which was right in his own eyes. The time of the Judges is probably the most misunderstood time in the entire Bible. There is some feeling in our minds that the time of the Judges was a time of darkness and a time when there were no great men. Yet some of the greatest men in the Bible lived in the time of the Judges: Gideon, Shamgar, Ehud, Samuel, etc.
We think of the time of the Judges as a time when evil men did evil, but that is just not true. We think of it as a time when men chose to do evil and that is just not true. The Bible does not say that every man did that which was sinful in his own eyes. Rather, it was a time when men decided to do right.
The time of the Judges was a time when men decided to do right. They were sincere in their efforts to do right. It was a time when men tried to do right. This was no Sodom and Gomorrah age. This was no age like Noah’s age. This was no time of knowing right and then choosing to do wrong. The truth is, they chose to do right. The Bible does not say they did wrong in their own eyes. The Bible says they did that which was right in their own eyes.
This is exactly what happened to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan did not say to Eve, “I want you to do wrong.” Satan said to Eve, “I want you to do right.” However, he added, “Eve, I want you to decide what is right.” Satan never went to Eve and said, “I want you to do wicked things.” He simply said, “Eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and you will be as gods.” So, Eve decided what was right to do. Her intention was to do right! However, no man has a right to decide what is right. This book called the Bible decides for us what is right.
Genesis 3:5 says, “knowing good and evil.” The word “knowing” is defined as the word determining. Satan is saying, “Eat the fruit of that tree, and you will be as gods. Then you can determine, or decide, what is good and what is evil. The bottom line would be that man would not need God!
Time and time again the Bible says about certain kings that they did evil in the sight of the Lord, or they did right in the sight of the Lord. Therefore, not all of the kings were bad men. Some were men who wanted to do that which was right. It does not say that they did evil in their own sight, but in the sight of the Lord. There was no doubt what was wrong. The biggest mistake anyone will make is to decide what is right and what is wrong. God Almighty knows what is right and what is wrong.
Good men with good motives have caused the deterioration of a family, marriage, school, college, or church. They do things thinking they can improve them. All of us should be more concerned with preserving than improving. For example, I have a preserved King James Bible, not an improved King James Bible. I belong to a preserved local New Testament Baptist church, not an improved local New Testament Baptist church. We have preserved doctrines, not improved doctrines. God is not doing a new thing; He is doing an old thing.
You cannot improve on the New Testament pattern for preaching, but you can preserve old-fashioned Bible preaching. You cannot improve on God’s personal soul winning plan, but you can preserve God’s personal soul winning plan.
The greatest days of Moody Bible Institute were before its leaders started improving the school. The greatest days of Bob Jones University were before its leaders started improving it. The greatest days of Tennessee Temple University were before its leaders started improving it. If you want to destroy a school or college, then attempt to improve it.
Leadership should constantly fight the fight of preserving or preservation. When I pastored Longview Baptist Temple I was constantly checking our church and schools to see how we compare with the way we were in the past. I am constantly undoing our improvements in order to return to our preserved ways. It is easy to do what is right in our own eyes, thereby quickly improving ourselves right out of the soul winning business, the King James Bible position, the local, independent Baptist church position, old-fashioned services, old-fashioned preaching, old-fashioned standards, old-fashioned music, old-fashioned bus ministry, etc.
When Moody Bible Institute, Bob Jones University, Tennessee Temple University, and other Bible colleges quit preserving and started improving, they had to quit preserving. Please do not misunderstand me; you can build a new building and still preserve old-fashioned Bible preaching. You can remodel and still preserve the King James Bible. You can replace the carpet and still preserve the old-fashioned doctrines. You can purchase new usher coats, new carpet, new buildings, etc., and everything will be fine as long as you preserve truths. You can install a computer system and still preserve the old time religion.
We have a problem, though, when we say the message is divine, but not the method. Be careful when preachers start preaching that God is doing a “new thing.” These men are opening the door of liberalism. You cannot improve personal soul winning, the King James Bible, old-fashioned songs, old-fashioned preaching, old-fashioned services, old-fashioned standards, the pastor-led church, old-fashioned schools, and old-fashioned Bible colleges.
The men who led in the deterioration of Moody Bible Institute were good men who thought they were doing right by improving, but they failed to preserve. Bad men destroy institutions, but good men make them destroyable. Longview Baptist Temple will not be destroyed by the generation following me. If she is destroyed, it will be the next generation that allows it to happen.
A lot of the men who built great works in the past were simple and were in some ways intimated by the young men and their intellectualism. Yet, they built what the young men have destroyed. I am not saying number wise, but content wise. They improved themselves to death.
Institutions do not decay in one generation. Good men begin to improve what they are given instead of preserving what they are given, thereby giving the second generation the opportunity to destroy that institution. Then bad men take over and destroy that institution.
We do not need a new and improved Longview Baptist Temple; we need a preserved Longview Baptist Temple. Fifty years from now, LBT should be as she is today; she should just have a whole lot more of the same! LBT ought to have the same King James Bible, same personal soul winning, same standards, same old-fashioned singing, same old-fashioned services, same methods, etc., for years to come.
Good men take over institutions with a desire to do right. Then they do what is right in their eyes, calling it improvement. When they do what is right in God’s sight, they are preserving. When we preserve instead of improve, we are right; but when we improve instead of preserving, we are wrong.
New songs are not bad as long as they preserve the old truths. The worldly beat, worldly melody, and worldly performer can be used to improve songs; but a little leaven will begin to leaven the whole loaf of music. When a preacher says that God is doing a new thing with music, run! New buildings are not bad as long as they house the preserving of the truth. New carpet, new furnishings, new pews, etc., are not bad if the truth is preserved.
In these fifty-four years at the Longview Baptist Temple, whatever has worked within the boundaries of the Bible should not be meddled with by the leadership. If our church, schools, or Texas Baptist College are ever destroyed, it will be because of bad men who use what they have been given by good men who attempted to improve, not preserve.
Thus, the real problem is good men who do good, but it is good in their eyes, not God’s eyes. They decide, they choose, they determine—all with the idea of improving. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” God is talking about good men who are doing what they think is right.
Watch this carefully; the verse does not say that while they are doing what they think is right, death will occur. It says, “…the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 16:25 also says that a good man does what he thinks is right, but he unknowingly prepares for a takeover by bad men.
Most church trouble is caused by good men who pressure leadership to do what is right in their own eyes, in hopes of improving. When H. A. Ironside turned sixty, he met with his deacon board and told them, “Men I’m getting older, and you men know what I want done. No longer can I control or lead in the decisions that must be made. I could do it when I was young; but I am traveling a lot, so I want you men to make the decisions from now on. You men know what I want, and I think it would improve our church. I will just preach and pastor while leaving the rest of the decisions up to you.”
Moody Church started deteriorating from that moment on. The deterioration was not caused by Dr. Ironside or those board members; the next generation destroyed the great soul winning of Moody Church because the next preachers were handcuffed by the next generation board members.
Not only do I want the next generation to be fundamental; but I also want the next generation to have a preserved fundamentalism, not an improved fundamentalism. People should quit pressuring leadership to improve and start encouraging the leaders to preserve. In these forty-two years of preaching, I have watched good people decide for themselves what is right.
Our country is being destroyed by good men who decide what they believe to be right in their own eyes. Thus, the Supreme Court strikes down our sodomy laws in Texas. Soon bad men will take these decisions and destroy America. There is an inevitable end to a nation who in the 1960’s said that we will decide what is right.
When the public school system kicked God out of their schools, they began a deterioration of our nation. I am not saying that the men who made those decisions were bad men. They were good men who attempted to decide what was right. Those men reasoned in their own minds to do right, but they forgot to ask God what was right.
Wanting to do right is not good enough! The question is, Who will decide what is right? The Bible says that every man did that which was right—not wrong—in his own eyes. Most false teachings were started by men who wanted to do right, not wrong. It seems, they say, that good men should go to Heaven, and bad men should go to Hell. Wait a minute—who are they to decide such things? There is not a Ph.D in America who can match the mind of God. Watch it when preachers start saying “God is doing a new thing in our day.”