Whose Opinions Really Matter: God’s or Man’s?

Do people’s changing personal opinions change the purposes of God? It is important to understand who really has the authority to define right from wrong.

Through the media we are constantly bombarded by the opinions, ideas, views and beliefs of various individuals, from the man in the street to leaders of nations. As public opinion changes, lawmakers and judges create and adjust laws that reflect people’s opinions about morality and impact how people interact with each other.

To what extent are people’s opinions the primary authority in determining morality and how society should function? What if their viewpoints and plans disagree with the clear teachings of our Creator, revealed in the Bible?

Christians need to ask themselves: Is God and His inspired Word the ultimate authority to define issues of human morality and behavior? Or do humans have that right?

What about the beliefs of the majority?

If the majority decides a particular matter is either right or wrong, does that trump what is defined in the Bible?

Recent surveys indicate a sharp decline among people in the United States who believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

The number of those who are skeptical or agnostic toward the Bible has nearly doubled from 10 to 19 percent in three years, according to the 2014 State of the Bible survey by the Barna Group.

More and more believe that the Bible is just another book of stories written by men. Despite the fact that 56 percent of Americans remain pro-Bible, only 37 percent read the Bible once a week or more. The percentages of adults who describe themselves as Christian are steadily dropping.

“It’s remarkably widespread,” said Alan Cooperman, director of religion research for the Pew Research Center. “The country is becoming less religious as a whole, and it’s happening across the board.”

What about the United Kingdom?

According to a survey of British Social Attitudes, 66 percent (32.2 million) have no connection with any religion or church. Less than half of people believe that God exists.

Over the past years people have flocked to cinemas to watch so-called Bible stories such as Noah and Exodus, but few are reading the Bible to see if what they viewed is really in the Bible, or merely fictitious incidents fabricated by screenwriters.

Despite human disbelief, God’s purposes will prevail

Rejection of the Bible as the basis of all authority—even by the majority as is the case in most Western nations—in no way invalidates the truths in God’s Word. Other people say they accept the Bible, but reject sections from it because the contents do not agree with their own personal beliefs.

This approach is unacceptable to God.

“The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:10-11).

God’s thoughts and ways are far superior to human ingenuity and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), and He emphatically states, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (verse 11, emphasis added throughout).

Human rejection of His Word will not alter the ultimate outcome of God’s purpose. It is not the will of man that ultimately prevails, but what God has planned (Isaiah 14:24, 26-27).

God’s power supersedes all human government and institutions. He says there is no God like Him who declares “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

No human authority, no matter how powerful, can overrule, supplant or supersede the will of God.

Human reasoning versus God’s truth

What are some of the areas where man’s beliefs and opinions are in conflict with what the Bible teaches? Many people believe that:

  • Mankind is a product of the process of evolution—an evolutionary accident.

But the Bible states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

The Bible says God is Creator, and He gives us evidence to prove it for ourselves. (See the articles in the “Proof of God” section.)

  • In order to obtain salvation, all you have to do is just believe.

But the Bible states: “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! … For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:17-19, 26).

  • Just love God and you will be saved.

But what is the love of God according to the Bible?

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

“He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this [keeping His commandments] we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:4-5).

  • The 10 Commandments are bondage (the Sabbath command is often specially noted in this regard) and no longer necessary to keep.

But the psalmist wrote: “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who delights greatly in His commandments” (Psalm 112:1).

The apostle Paul stated: “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. … For we know that the law is spiritual” (Romans 7:12, 14).

Christ said: “If you want to enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).

Irrespective of people’s views about the commandments of God, the Bible states that true Christians are expected to obey them. People’s opinions—arguing or disagreeing with the commandments—do not change their importance in God’s sight.Irrespective of people’s views about the commandments of God, the Bible states that true Christians are expected to obey them. People’s opinions—arguing or disagreeing with the commandments—do not change their importance in God’s sight.

  • Human organizations and governments can define what constitutes a marriage and the laws that govern the marriage union.

But the Bible states that marriage is a divine institution, ordained by God at creation, and defined by the immutable and unchangeable laws of God. After He created the first man from the dust of the ground, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’” (Genesis 2:18).

The Creator then united the first man and woman as husband and wife, saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (verse 24).

God, who created the marriage relationship in the first place, is the ultimate authority on what constitutes a marriage.

  • It is okay for people to blaspheme God’s name in everyday speech.

But the Third Commandment clearly states: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain [misuse it in a useless, trivial and thoughtless manner], for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). We are to hallow (honor highly) God’s name (Matthew 6:9).

Consequences for following man’s opinions contrary to God’s ways

Before the ancient Israelites entered the Promised Land, God issued a warning through Moses: “You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8). If they failed to follow His instructions, there would be severe consequences (28:15).

Only the foolish will “despise wisdom and instruction,” and those who “disdained all my counsel … shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies” (Proverbs 1:7, 25, 31; see also Jeremiah 2:19).

God told the prophet Jeremiah that when the people asked him why troubles were increasing in the nation, he should answer: “You have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me” (Jeremiah 16:12).

How many today really listen to and seek to obey God?

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).

When our Creator judges, He bases His judgment and justice on what He has spoken in His Word: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

James, the half-brother of Jesus, stated: “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:12).

What does God expect us to do?

God wants us to recognize His beneficial laws and obey them, even if society around us does not. He wants Christians to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1) whenever possible, but when there is a conflict to follow Peter’s admonition, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

We should forsake our own ways, thoughts and opinions if they are contrary to God’s righteous ways, and “seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” If we do, God’s Word is sure: “Let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

God has a plan that will eventually extend salvation to everyone, not just those He has called now. He desires “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), and He “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

God in His love and mercy will eventually make it possible for each person to seek and find His way of life—the way that, if followed, will lead to peace, happiness and ultimately eternal life in His Kingdom.

Despite what people’s viewpoints may be, it’s God’s words that will count for eternity!

Read more about God’s way of life and how He wants us to respond to Him in our free booklets God’s 10 Commandments: Still Relevant Today and Change Your Life!

About the Author

André van Belkum

Andre van Belkum

Andre van Belkum currently serves as the pastor of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, in New Zealand and the Pacific region. Previously he pastored congregations in southern Africa, including South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

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