MAN IS DISTINGUISHED from animals and the lower creation by the fact that he is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26,27). Aside from being an eternal spirit (Hebrews 12:9; Ecclesiastes 3:21; 12:7; Matthew 25:46), a part of what constitutes this image and likeness is man’s ability to think and reason. Blessed as he has been with this superior ability and capacity, man for the most part has not lived up to his potential and possibilities. With the fall of man, sin has mired the picture. With the deception of Eve (Genesis 3:1-6), and consequently with the acquired depravity (not inherited) of mankind thereafter (Hebrews 3:12-14; Romans 3:23), the thinking process of man has been corrupted and altered (at least in greater or lesser degrees in reference to God, and the things of God).
Notice these Scriptures that bear heavily upon this subject. Paul said that when men departed from God, especially with the Gentile world of his day in mind, they "became vain [empty] in their imaginations [thoughts], and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:21,22), and consequently went into idolatry, perverted homosexual practices, and all kinds of sins. In Ephesians 4:17-19 he further speaks of this when he says that "Gentiles walk, in the vanity [emptiness] of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness [hardness] of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness [sensuality], to work all uncleanness with greediness." (And he is quick to say, "But ye have not so learned Christ"). Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. Here Paul asserts that when "the world by wisdom [philosophy, humanism] knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (verse 21). But we must continually confront the problem that "the god of this world [the devil] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Corinthians 4:4). This must be overcome in becoming a Christian.
That is the overall picture of a world lost in sin, but there are more specific things that hinder or limit the thinking process today. It may simply be the multi-culture in which we live with the many and various philosophies that permeate it. It may be the denominational religious traditions that have been accepted without question through the years. Too many are on the broad way, following their "Pied Piper" without even thinking. Certainly no man is an island, and no one is exempt from influences of which he may not even be aware. Colossians 2:8 warns, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." We live in a world where most of the universities and schools of the land seem to be under the influence and control of humanistic "thinking" people (although lip service is superficially given to "God" by some). Man is no more than an evolving animal. With God officially barred from the public schools and no absolute code of morals permitted, one gets the impression that sex and materialism are the only things that really matter. With the media daily bombarding our minds from this perspective, and with their obvious "in your face" agenda of promoting sodomy and dismantling Christian values, if a person is not alert and on his toes, he can become brainwashed and victimized. And with so little knowledge of God’s Word, even among professed Christians, one can fall in line without even thinking. The influence of professing Christians is neutralized and so many of our young people become casualties to the cause of Christ.
Then the religious scene per se today is muddled with a lot of conflicting and fuzzy concepts. And to add to the confusion, encouraged by our multi-cultural sociologists, more and more non-Christian religions are becoming part of the picture. There are few that independently have studied out their convictions, and most consider it an affront to suggest that we should. Who has the time, or will take the time, to really do this? "Don’t we have our religious leaders who have done this and can tell us what to believe? We have always believed this way, and that’s good enough for me." But, if you profess to believe the Bible, this creates a problem. You must believe that only truth and Christ are acceptable (John 8:31,32; 12:48; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Galatians 1:8,9), and truth does not contradict itself. Narrowing it down, the doctrines and traditions of men are unacceptable (Matthew 15:1-9). The apostle Paul admonished, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Word of God is the final and only authority in religion (2 Timothy 3:16,17). Of the Bereans, we read, "These were more noble than those at Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). But modern man would "cop out," and in essence say, "It really doesn’t matter what you believe, just so you are sincere."
We could list a number of important religious questions, like 1, 2, 3 or a half-dozen or more, just like that. Man with the mental capacity that God has given him, reflecting the likeness of Deity, should be able to handle them, searching out the truth and examining these subjects in the light of the Word of God. But would this happen? Would most do this? No. Response to the questions would be so filled with emotion that they wouldn’t even be considered, let alone talked about. A mindset locked in tradition and cluttered and entangled by the cobwebs of disuse, is painfully disrupted and disturbed. The old traditional and well-beaten paths, although perhaps crooked and erroneous, are preferred.
Let us challenge you to be an independent student of God’s Word. Be more than just a second hand Christian, if that. Lay aside the philosophies, the creeds, the doctrines and traditions of men. Forget them totally when you approach the Bible. The fresh, new and invigorating truths that you learn will be simply amazing. Study the Bible like you have never studied it before, and you will learn truths like you have never learned before. This writer years ago cut all ties with denominationalism and traditionalism after telling the local preacher in the denomination of which he (this writer) was a member, that he could not be a preacher in that denomination. The preacher wanted to know why. This-to-be writer’s reply: I pointed out that Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life…" (John 5:39). I had been doing this, and that I could not find sprinkling or the "baptism" of infants anywhere in the Scriptures. Therefore, I told him, I could not be a "minister" in that denomination and practice such things. I was really taken aback by his unhesitating reply. "Would you put your life between the covers of a book?" I was really shocked. He was relegating the Bible to "a book." Human tradition was on a par with the Bible, just another book. I therewith was determined to follow the Bible wherever it would lead me, regardless, and that has been my objective until this day, believing it will lead to heaven. It has led me out of denominationalism to be identified simply with Christ and the church of the New Testament, and that alone (and with everyone else who has done this). It is a thrilling experience and journey. We challenge you to exercise your God-given prerogative. You are made in the image and likeness of God.
For some entertaining and provocative thoughts complimenting the challenge of this article, read the "The Calf Path Poem" that follows. "Think on these things" (Philippians 4:8)
          The Calf Path Poem
One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as calves all do.
Since then three hundred years have fled
And I infer the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way.
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep.
And drew the flock behind him, too
As good bellwethers always do.
And from that day o’er hill and glade,
Through these old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ‘twas such a crooked path.
But still they followed...do not laugh,
The first migrations of that calf.
This forest path became a lane,
That bent and turned and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet;
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis.
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf three centuries dead.
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf path of the mind
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track
And out and in, and forth and back
And still their devious course pursue
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove
Along which all their lives they move,
But now much wiser (?) we just laugh
About that first primeval calf. ? 
                     —Sam Walter Foss 
* Some words of last two lines changed from original
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