Wandering Out Of The Way Prov. 21: 16 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Prov 21:16 says, “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.” This is one of the most ignored verses in the Bible. It speaks of a specific right way (the way of understanding) in which God’s people are supposed to walk. It speaks of an individual responsibility (the man) to find this way and to stay in it. It speaks of the possibility of gradually drifting away (wandereth) from this way of understanding. It speaks of the terrible destination of those who wander out of the way (the congregation of the dead). And it speaks of the improbable return (shall remain) of those who wind up in this congregation.
What causes “the man” to wander out of the way?
Unbelief will cause you to wander. I’ve seen good men wind up in bad churches because they left the truth. The way of understanding is the way that the Holy Spirit leads. His doctrine is pure and perfect. He gives it to you by inspiration [2 Tim 3:16-17] so that you can understand it [Job 32:8]. When you don’t understand or don’t believe what he is teaching you, your unbelief will lead you out of the way of understanding and into the congregation of the dead. They are dead because they are lost. They are dead because they are religious. They are dead because there is no dependence upon the Holy Spirit; God’s not welcome.
Distraction will cause you to wander. I’ve seen young men and women sitting in church and they might as well not be there. They are getting nothing out of the preaching because they are preoccupied with their own thoughts. They are distracted. Their minds wander and, in time, their feet follow their thoughts… out the door. They wind up in the congregation of the dead. When you see them later, there is absolutely no evidence that they are even children of God. They are “dead” to the things of God.
Lusts will cause you to wander. I’ve seen young men and women in church who are drawn away with lusts. They understand what you preach and teach, but deep down in their hearts they are consumed with youthful lusts. That’s why Paul told Timothy, “Flee youthful lusts.” “Flee fornication.” If you don’t get control of these things in your life they will cause you to wander out of the way of understanding. I can think of numerous young adults, today, who started off in the way of understanding and wandered out of it to please their youthful lusts. They are in the congregation of the dead right now and may remain there from now on. There is no place for you to fulfill the lusts of your flesh in the way of understanding.
Friends will cause you to wander. I’ve seen people leave a good church that’s in the way of understanding because a friend of theirs didn’t want to go to that church anymore. They followed their friend instead of the Holy Spirit and wandered out of the way of understanding. Now they are in the congregation of the dead and don’t even care. They are more interested in pleasing man than they are in pleasing God. And pleasing man will kill you spiritually [Gal 1:10].
Family will cause you to wander. I’ve seen husbands and wives divided over the way of understanding. One will follow the Lord to a good Bible believing church where the Bible is preached and taught understandably and correctly. The other will, for one reason or another, decide that their old church or a different church is where they should attend. And so they’ll go to different churches for a while. And then gradually they will wander out of the way of understanding and into the congregation of the dead. And there they will remain in, as one preacher used to say, “a dead orthodox religion.”
Conclusion: if you are not in the way of understanding, pray that the Lord will lead you there now. If you are in the way of understanding, realize that you must diligently walk in that way and not wander.
If your beliefs start causing you to wander, get with the pastor and in your Bible to sort out the doctrine. If distractions start causing you to wander, get control of your mind and your life so that these things don’t pull you away. If lusts start causing you to wander, “flee (your) youthful lusts.” If your friend wants or your friends want you to wander, maybe it’s time for you to break of that friendship or those friendships. Your best friend in the world is Jesus and you will find him in the way of understanding. If your family is trying to get you to wander, then tell them you are going to stick with the way of understanding. Tell them, “I’ll be right here when you return from the congregation of the dead, if you return.” Unfortunately, most people who wander from the way of understanding REMAIN in the congregation of the dead.