Man has Gone Astray

MEMORY VERSE: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” —Isaiah 53:6

PSALM 14:2, 3

THE statement, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God,” should not be taken literally. God knew, without looking down from heaven, that all the offspring of Adam “are altogether become filthy,” and that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (vs. 3) This language is designed to bring God’s thoughts down to the level of human understanding.

Romans 5:19 sets forth God’s provision for fallen man. We quote: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One [Jesus] shall many be made righteous.” Paul expresses a further thought in verse 21: “As sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

During the present Gospel Age a few receive life through Christ upon the basis of faith-justification. These are brought forth to actual life in the first resurrection. During the Millennial Age the remainder of mankind will be awakened from the sleep of death and be given the privilege of proving worthy of eternal life as humans. Paul put it this way: “Since by man came death, by man … also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”—I Cor. 15:21,22

We conclude from the testimony of the Scriptures that when God “looked down” from heaven upon the human race it was with a sympathetic eye, and with the thought of demonstrating his love on behalf of mankind by the gift of his beloved Son to be the Redeemer.


This one-verse segment of the lesson reads, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” While man originally was created in the image of God, this “image” did not imply the ability to “make it alone” in life, separate from the guidance and wisdom of God. And certainly since man’s fall into sin he is still less able to do this.

JEREMIAH 17:9, 10

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” wrote Jeremiah. In this case we could think of the heart as being a symbol of motives; and it is true that the motives which govern human behavior in the case of the ungodly are deceitful and wicked. A person conducts himself as he does because he is motivated to do so.

Even the man of God can easily be deceived by his own heart. He may think that his motives are good, yet when analyzed in the light of God’s Word they may be selfish, and quite contrary to the divine will. We need to search the Word for guidance of our motives, and continue earnestly in prayer.

Verse 10 informs us that the Lord searches the heart—“even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” It is comforting to be assured that the Lord, who can read our hearts, is taking this interest in us. While we know that we cannot at all times control our motives as we would like to do, yet the Lord understands and deals with us now and will do so in the future according to what we have tried to be.

ROMANS 1:28 – 2:1

As stated in the title of our lesson, men have gone astray because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge. To retain a knowledge of God means that one recognizes restraints upon his actions; and more and more of the human race have wanted to throw off these restraints. This is one of the reasons for world chaos today, especially in the field of moral conduct. Increasing numbers of people wish to make their own decisions as to what is right and what is wrong.

Paul speaks of those who, while “knowing the judgment of God” that they who violate his law “are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man.” Not all are willful sinners, but all are imperfect and need a Redeemer: “All we like sheep have gone astray.”


How does God look down from heaven, and what does he see?

Can we always have perfect motives?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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