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  • Writer's pictureWilson Lim

Beware Of Dead Ends




I am sure that all of us want to start our lives well and end it well. However, we know that despite good and well-meaning intentions, we may not always end up where we want to be or worse, end up where we do not want to be.


In Oct 2005, two Australian tourists used an Avis rental car's satellite navigation system to travel from Christchurch to Nelson. Anthony Hoiberg and Clarinda Mojar flew into Christchurch at 1am on Tuesday and picked up the rental car, using its global positioning system (GPS) to navigate their route to Nelson. They had often used GPS in Australia and thought it would be the safest way to travel. For 10 hours the couple forded rivers, driving through fog, unable to turn around on the narrow road, ending up at a locked gate to a high-country station called Rainbow Station. They ended up stranded on New Zealand's highest public mountain pass. Why? In the GPS, they did not realise they instructed, “avoid urban roads”.


The last thing we want to end up is in a dead end in our lives. In this article we examine some of the factors that lead to dead ends. From 1 Tim:1-11, we explore 3 factors.


THEORY OF EVERYTHING: WRONG PATH

Some theoretical physicists are attempting to formulate a theory known as Theory of Everything (TOE): a theory that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena. Some scientists think that it is impossible to formulate such a theory, that it is pursuing the wrong path. Yet some doggedly continue that elusive pursuit.


1 Timothy 1:3 (NIV) As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer


In Ephesus there were believers who were pursuing the wrong path as far as doctrines were concerned. They were teaching things which contradicted God’s Word. They had got it wrong. They were along the wrong path in their thinking, their perspectives but did not realise it or refuse to acknowledge it.


Wrong paths lead to wrong destinations. Wrong destinations are dead ends.

Could it be possible, that you too might be going along the wrong path in your thinking, your perspectives? If so, it is a dead end. It will lead you nowhere fast. Wrong paths lead to wrong destinations. Wrong destinations are dead ends.


How can people end up on the wrong path? They trusted something unreliable or incorrect. They made wrong assumptions and trusted those assumptions.

How can people end up on the wrong path? They trusted something unreliable or incorrect. They made wrong assumptions and trusted those assumptions.


In 2008, a retired Pennsylvania couple stranded in their compact car in the Utah desert for four days subsisted on crackers and soda before hiking to safety. Ray and Sue Beard are back home after spending four harrowing days in the desert when the directions supplied by their portable navigation device led them far off the beaten path in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, 1.9-million acres of rugged public land in southern Utah. They assumed that their GPS cannot go wrong, but it did. They failed to check against any maps.


Some choose to trust the wrong information or perspective that they received. In Ephesus there were certain men who taught “false” doctrines. These were probably impressive in their knowledge. They sounded like they knew a lot. They used a lot of complex terms and had impressive arguments. Sadly, it is still happening even in the Church today. There are scholars with impressive sounding letters after their names, PhD, ThD, DMin with degrees from some equally impressive sounding universities or seminaries. Yet they are teaching doctrines along the wrong path.


As a former research scientist in Australia’s CSIRO, the premier research organisation in the southern hemisphere, I know what it is like in the research world. Scientists make a lot of assumptions and theories, especially in areas that they cannot directly measure consistently under controlled lab conditions. As a scientist I had written a couple of papers refuting and correcting assumptions/theories proposed by leading scientists. And these were in areas that could be directly measured. So when scientists come up with big theories like the Big Bang going back billions of years, theories of evolution going back millions of years – we got to be careful! I have seen the pride, the controversies, the money that fuels these amongst scientists. Some have impressive knowledge, and their arguments can sound impressive but they have got it wrong. They started down the wrong track and refused to admit they are wrong. But instead rationalise and build around themselves reasonings to convince themselves and others that they are right.


2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV) For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.


They did not pay attention to the signs and evidence that they were on the wrong track. In the first story shared, the Rainbow Station manager David McEwen said the road could best be described as "a shingle goat track". "To say they're following their GPS quite frankly doesn't wash with me. They've gone past signs that said `Road Closed' that are 6ft high and 3ft wide and are illuminated."


Ignore the warning signs at our own peril! Is it possible that some assumptions, some perspectives, some doctrines in our lives are incorrect but we are blindly trusting in it? It may lead us to a dead end!


What we need is truth.

God’s Word contains truth. In fact, it is the Truth. John 17:17 (NIV) Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. When we properly follow God’s Word, God’s Truth, we will be better equipped to keep on the right path. Psalms 119:104 - 105 (NIV) 104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.


With the truth, we can begin to walk along the right path.

You see, truth reveals. It illuminates so that we may understand the reality before us. With the truth, we can begin to walk along the right path. When we begin to do so, we can begin to experience life as God intended. John 6:63 (NIV) The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.


God does not want us to end up in a dead end. That is why He has given us His Word to guide us. Think about it, could you be going along the wrong path in your thinking and perspectives? If so, it could lead you nowhere, heading towards a dead end. What we need is truth, God’s Truth.


TRIVIAL PURSUITS: WASTE OF TIME

1 Timothy 1:4–6 (NIV) 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.


Some believers were caught up in trivial pursuits. Investigating myths and endless genealogies in the hope that it will unravel some secret, previously unknown truths. 1 Timothy 1:6 (NLT) But some teachers have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time arguing and talking foolishness.


Waste your time and you waste your life.

It was a sheer waste of time. It also generated controversies. Could you be too caught up in little things, trivial matters, when there are much more important, essential matters of eternal consequence? Waste your time and you waste your life. Your time is literally your life.


What might we be wasting our time on? It could be as simple as too much time on computer games and getting caught up in social media. It could be as big as your life goals that are going in the wrong direction and you will find it a grand waste of time eventually. There are actually articles written called, “Is Your Ladder Up the Wrong Wall?” Because many have exerted all their energy to run up a ladder of career or lifestyle only to find it was on the wrong wall. For many of us, it could simply be spending a lot of time on things which are not very productive. Things which have no eternal significance.


What we need is correct priorities.

There are priorities and there are correct priorities. God is the ultimate judge of what are correct priorities.

There are priorities and there are correct priorities. God is the ultimate judge of what are correct priorities. If our priorities are right before God it will be rewarded. 1 Corinthians 3:12 - 14 (NIV) 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.


The Greatest Commandment (Matt 22:37-38) and the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). These should form the backbone of our priorities.

That is why we need to go back to the Bible and discover what they are. The Bible speaks about the Greatest Commandment (Matt 22:37-38) and the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). These should form the backbone of our priorities. Are our priorities loving God and others? Are our priorities making disciples? Is it time to get our priorities right before God?


PHARISEES: STUBBORNLY WRONG

1 Timothy 1:7–11 (NIV) 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. 8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels… and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.


Pride makes people full of themselves. Consequently, they do not listen to others

Some believers confidently proclaim the Mosaic Law as if they understood what it was all about. But in reality, they failed to understand its purpose. Yet they continue to push their point of view stubbornly. The problem lies in a stubborn pride. Pride makes people full of themselves. Consequently, they do not listen to others, even despite repeated attempts.


Pride blinds them to their own errors and make them think others are wrong, when in fact the problem lies in their own hearts. They refuse to see the dead end even when faced with it! The Pharisees were stubbornly proud. They refused to accept the truth that Jesus brought. Mark 3:5 - 6 (NIV) 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.


The end result of pride is destruction.

The end result of pride is destruction. Proverbs 16:18 (NLT) Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. Let us be honest before God. Are we stubborn towards God in any areas of our lives? Could we be headed towards a fall?


What we need is humility.

Jesus made a strong point about the need to be humble in the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector. The tax collector was justified before God because of his humility, unlike the Pharisee. Jesus concluded in Luke 18:14 (NIV) “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”


Pride can be hidden. External humility is not what God is looking for. Inner humility is what He desires. “Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil's reach as humility” wrote Jonathan Edwards.

Satan was so consumed with pride and it that caused him to be in an eternal struggle with God. We must always be watchful less we fall into the same trap as Him. The interesting thing is this: Satan wants us to be in the same situation as he is!


Stubborn pride blocks us from facing the truth and acknowledging the truth.

Stubborn pride blocks us from facing the truth and acknowledging the truth. Many years ago, I mentored a young man who recently turned to Christ. He tried to share with his housemate about Christ. But his house mate would outright reject anything he had to share. This frustrated him very much. So I said to him, “Why don’t we pray together? Let’s ask God to break through to your housemate.” I also encouraged him to pray regularly for his housemate.


A few weeks after we prayed, my young mentee shared to me that his housemate had a nightmare. In the nightmare, he was chasing after a girl he liked in school. But no matter how hard he tried, the girl kept rejecting him. Finally, out of desperation, he asked the girl why she was rejecting him. The girl looked at him in the eye and said, “Because you are so arrogant!” He woke up in cold sweat. The next day, his housemate came to him and admitted to him, “I just realised how arrogant I am.” Shortly after, my mentee asked his housemate to come to church. The week after, the housemate came to church and accepted Christ! A few weeks later, the housemate invited his girlfriend and she too accepted Christ!


Humility opens our hearts to the truth. If we truly humble ourselves then God promises to lift us up. Luke 1:52 (NIV) He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.


No matter who we are and what we think we know, humility will bring us unto the right path.

Humility is a choice. There were times when I was faced with situations where I could have responded with my rights. But God reminded me to respond with humility. So I chose to respond with humility. I have experienced that humility releases the blessings of God. No matter who we are and what we think we know, humility will bring us unto the right path.


CONCLUSIONS

Are you headed for a dead end? If you are to be a true disciple, make sure you avoid the dead end. Consider what path you are on now. Is it the right path? Let the truth of God’s Word reveal it to you. Are you headed for a dead end? Consider where your time is going. Is it into matters of eternal consequence? The Great Commandment and the Great Commission? Don’t make the mistake of being like the Pharisees, stubbornly wrong. Be humble and discover the truth that God wants for you!

 

Copyright©️2023 by Wilson Lim. All rights reserved. Materials are free to be distributed in whole or part as long as proper acknowledgement is given to the author and not sold for profit.

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