The famous quote from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ is when Jack Sparrow says to Mr. Gibbs, “I thought you were supposed to keep to the code.” Gibbs replies, “We figured they were more actual guidelines.” This quote is seen when men challenge law as merely a guideline rather than a rule to abide by. Waiting behind a couple of trucks in the “Right Turn Only” lane I was rather surprised when a break in the traffic allowed them time to turn – left. Moving across four lanes of traffic the trucks barreled down the road considering the sign instructing them to turn right “more actual guidelines” than law.
Four things were at play that day. First, they had a need to turn left and they found themselves in the wrong lane. Second, they understood the law requiring them to turn right but the law did not suit their needs. Third, law only applied to them when they had no choice (like the presence of law enforcement). Finally, there were no immediate consequences to their action and they gave their disobedience no further thought. While their action did not impact anyone it does speak to an attitude of heart that has been the driving force of the serpent’s plea so long ago. “Has God indeed said” (Genesis 3:1) is how Satan drove a wedge between man and God. Eve found herself thinking how unfair it was for God to forbid the tree from her. She knew the law of God as she repeated it to Satan. Believing the Lord would not know what she was doing she reached out and took the fruit. After eating the fruit she did not die; at least the way that Satan explained it.
Most men view the Bible as a book of guidelines rather than a law to live by. The books of Genesis to the Revelation are the mind of God but the mind of man will only accept what suits his needs and desires. Murder may be wrong but homosexuality must be accepted. Faith in God is necessary but baptism has no place in salvation. It matters not what church you belong although the New Testament only speaks of one church. The moral code has given way to the moral guidelines adaptable to the whims of modern culture. Isaiah warned of this attitude when he wrote, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-21)!
The Bible is filled with stories of those who turned left when the law says “right turn only.” Nadab & Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3) turned left and were punished. Moses was guilty of not giving God the glory (Numbers 20) and was forbidden from entering the Promised Land. David was punished for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). Ananias and Sapphira tried to hide their greed from God and received the penalty of death (Acts 5). Many will reject the gospel and will see the Lord returning “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
God’s laws are not merely guidelines – they are life and death (Deuteronomy 30:15). They cannot be viewed as a convenience to the needs of man. “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Disobeying the law of God will bring eternal penalty.