"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.VI Pg.1,5b
January 1944

The Hard Way

Cled E. Wallace

There is a popular impression to the effect that the way of righteousness is the hard way and that drifting along the path of least resistance in surrendering to every whim of the flesh is the easy way of life. It is a shortsighted and narrow view of the chief problem of life. He who knew all about life has said: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." "Thus saith Jehovah, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls; but they said, We will not walk therein." The stubborn man who spurns divine guidance and scorns the restraints of law and insists on his right to independently walk along the path of his own choosing, he is the man who is in for a hard time.

Man is a part of a universe which is ruled by law. If he does not fit into an orderly scheme of things, he is in for a hard time. He can break himself by rebelling against forces designed to bless him and make his life easy. God is the center and meaning of the universe and without him there is no explanation for it. His will is supreme and no righteous law can operate without reference to him. "For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things. To him be the glory forever." Rebellion begins with a hostile and stubborn state of mind directed against God and against nature. "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals, and his feet not be scorched? So he that goeth in to his neighbor's wife; Whosoever toucheth her shall not be unpunished." A man may think he is having a good time, an easy time, when he is treading the so-called primrose path of sin, but it is in fact the hard way and he is in for a hard time. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." There is no way to sow the wind without reaping the whirlwind. Sowing the wind may prove amusing in a fleeting sort of way, but reaping the whirlwind is hard and let there be no misunderstanding about that.

There is more than a hint in the Bible about the hard and easy way of life. Human beings stumbling along in sin, "tossed to and fro and carried about with" all sorts of evil forces may look on discipline as being hard, and the restraints of law burdensome, but there is no bitterness as bitter as the fruits of sin, and nothing harder than violated law exacts as a penalty for transgression. "Good understanding giveth favor; but the way of the transgressor is hard." "Good understanding" recognizes the place the will of God occupies as overall guidance in a human life. It is not a mere coincidence that Paul said: "Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." The transgressor lacks understanding, he is foolish, he lacks a sense of values, and is really in for a hard time. Ignorance and sin cannot bring a man to any other end than a tragic one. Revelation and nature join in such a proclamation.

The principles that determine whether blessings or woes shall visit mankind are clearly defined and illustrated in God's revelation to man. "Blessed is the man that walk eth not in the counsel of the wicked, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers: But his delight is in the law of Jehovah: And on his law doth he meditate day and night." "Woe unto them! For they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah... for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved forever." Cain no doubt felt pleasantly righteous when he brought his offering of the fruits of the field unto Jehovah. It was an offering of his own choosing, a glowing example of "will-worship," a substitute for the offering that God commanded. "Lord, I know you want that, but I think you will like this" is implied in the presumptuous conduct of this vainglorious worshipper. It was easy for a man of Cain's disposition to do a thing like that. He was a transgressor. When his offering was abruptly rejected and the blessings of God descended on the obedient Abel, then Cain in a fit of rage and jealousy slew his brother. That is sin in its full-grown state. When Cain stood over the dead body of his brother, he must have been overwhelmed by the sense of the hardness of transgression. When an outraged God pronounced judgment upon him, he cried: "My punishment is greater than I can bear." "The way of the transgressor is hard."

Balaam, the covetous prophet, who loved the hire of wrongdoing, was not willing to cut loose from God. He made quite a show of loyalty and piety. When the princely tempters of Balak dangled before the hungry eyes of Balaam "the rewards of divination," and the dazzling bribes of treachery to God, the wavering prophet was vehement in his pretense of loyalty. "If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of Jehovah my God, to do less or more." It was a very fine speech, but the trouble was that Balaam wanted to go although it was very clear to him that God wanted it otherwise. He came to God with an idol in his heart and God answered him according to that idol. Every step that Balaam took after that was in the way of transgression. It was a hard way and he came to a hard end.

"The gainsaying of Korah" is particularly interesting in this connection. The rule of Moses and Aaron through the divine order was extremely galling to him and the princely men associated with him. They were proud and ambitious. It was easy for such men to rebel and the justification they offered for their course must have sounded plausible to them and their followers. Transgressors always have a line of self-justification. They found fault with Moses and Aaron and played up to the vanity of their followers by flattery. At the beginning of their rebellion they could not see the yawning earth at the end of this road of transgression waiting to swallow them up. It was so with king Saul. It is so with all transgressors. Jesus told Saul of Tarsus that "It is hard for thee to kick against the goad." Transgressors are goad-kickers. Even an ox soon learns more discretion.

The divine voice of invitation and warning to the hosts of the earth reaches a crescendo of volume and power in the New Testament. "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not when they refused him that warned them on earth, much more shall not we escape who turn away from him that warneth from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven." The voice of God is the voice of authority. It comes to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Any other way than the gospel way is the way of transgression. It is a hard way. "But unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek; for there is no respect of persons with God."