by Dr. Rick Flanders
“…beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.”
(Second Peter 2:14-16)
The second chapter of the Second Epistle of Peter deals with the many “false prophets” that have come among God’s people to deceive and ruin them. Among the illustrations given there from the Old Testament scriptures is the case of Balaam. He was the prophet we met in Numbers 22, who was lured away from faithfulness to his duty by “the wages of unrighteousness.” The enticements of money and personal promotion persuaded him to accept the commission of a king to come and curse the people of God. Now he soothed his uneasy conscience by issuing some disclaimers before leaving for Moab, but nevertheless he set out on a donkey to do the wrong thing and accept the king’s invitation. Of course the famous story tells us that his donkey he was riding actually opened his mouth and spoke to the prophet and informed him of things his eyes could not see (look up and read Numbers 22:22-32). God was resisting him as he rebelled against the divine will, and he was in real danger. The miracle of the talking donkey was given, we are told by Peter, to rebuke Balaam, and forbid “the madness of the prophet” (Second Peter 2:16). Balaam’s action to resist the known will of God for his life is called insanity (the meaning of the Greek word translated “madness”). He was crazy to rebel against what God wanted.
There is a measure of insanity involved in any decision to go against the known will of God. God is always reasonable, and His perfect will fits the best standards of reason and logic. He has said to us,
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: through your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…”
Reason and the revealed will of God coincide. The denial of the Word of God and the rejection of His ways must always take men out of the realm of good sense. God has given His servants “the Spirit of… power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (Second Timothy 1:7). Those who rebel against Him lose the capacity to think soundly.
Supposedly intelligent people today are saying the craziest things! You have heard them say, for instance, that one’s own gender is a matter of choice. To identify a person’s sex by obvious physical characteristics is a dangerous violation of civil rights, we are told. The practice forces that individual to accept the gender “assigned to them” at birth on their birth certificate. It is supposed to be smart to say rather that each person has a right to choose his own gender, and that children should be given a chance to make the choice without undue pressure or influence to yield to the decision made by the doctors or by their parents when they were born. Of course, this line of reasoning is crazy. Every cell in a human being’s body declares his sex, and there are objective ways to determine it. He is born one or the other. It is not a matter of choice. So-called “transgender” people are delusional, and need help. Those who really care about them will try to help them, and the help must begin by pressing them to admit the reality of who and what they really are. The other approach is madness.
The Supreme Court has now declared that marriage can be between people of the same sex. Of course, the tradition of all societies, and the natural definition of marriage contradict this idea. Men have always assumed marriage to be between people of opposite sexes. People who can produce children have a moral and legal obligation to establish a stable environment in which to bring them up: in other words, a “home” created by “marriage.” Some have clamored for the right to maintain a sexual relation of sorts with those of the same sex, but to create out of whole cloth the idea that marriage can, or ought, and must be homosexual as well has heterosexual defies logic. It’s crazy.
Along these lines, very powerful groups are now saying that to designate bathrooms as for men or for women amounts to the same kind of bigotry that once designated bathrooms in some regions as for “colored” or for “white” people. What person in his right mind really believes this is true? Do not privacy and safety provide solid reasons for restricting the use of rest rooms to people of the same biological sex? Does a man really have a civil right to go into the ladies’ bathroom? It is amazing that more Americans don’t insist that this is insane.
There was a time when opponents of God and the Bible held up reason as the great alternative to faith. Unbelief was presented as reasonable. But now it is clear that faith and the kind of thinking it produces is the source of rational judgment. Jesus said, “Judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Infidelity, and the rebellion against God that produces it, is a source of irrational thinking.
Rebellion always generates craziness. Have you noticed what nutty things rebellious young people do to spite their parents? Many of the “new ideas” of our times have been developed to contradict tradition, and specifically the biblically-based traditions of Western culture. Such things as moral decency, modest attire, civilized behavior, beautiful music, clean language, and conservative politics are jettisoned to spite the traditions that support them. So we get craziness.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,” says the Bible (Proverbs 1:8). Respect for God and His ways is the basis of clear thinking. And Jesus said that submission to the will of God is the key to the enlightenment of the mind.
“If any man will [is willing to] do his [God’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine [teaching], whether it be of God…”
Being willing to do whatever God wants done opens the mind to understand what He wants done. On the other hand, rebelling against God and His will is a sure way to scramble the mind. So our world has gone crazy, and the reason is a prevailing rebellion of the heart against the living God. A world gone crazy will harm itself and make itself more and more miserable as time moves on. So will an individual who buys into crazy ideas or creates them from his own war against the Lord. The only real cure for the craziness is to yield to God.
A great king of ancient times went crazy, and the reason was his egomania and unwillingness to bow before God. His name was Nebuchadnezzar, and for a time he ruled the empire of Babylon. His testimony in regard to how he lost his mind and how he was restored to sanity is found in the Bible, in the fourth chapter of the book of Daniel. He said in his testimony of personal conversion (which was addressed to “all people, nations, and languages”) that, after a period of complete madness that removed him from the throne, his thinking was cured when he surrendered to God.
“And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation…
“At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me…
“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”
(From Daniel 4:34-37)
Anyone can find relief from madness by surrendering his heart to the true God, and our society will return to sanity, when our people yield to the God who loved the world and sent His only-begotten Son to save us. The problem with our minds is in our hearts.