“It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer 10:23)

by Steven Chan
19 July 2009

The world that we are living in is being torn apart by the failure of proper regulation and/or the lack of proper enforcement of regulations. A worldview philosophy has permeated the world for the past two decades which argues that man himself or the market place is the best determinant of what is good, proper or right as regards most things whether investments or moral issues – and that government should never interfere in the operation of the market forces – and the catch cry is often this: let the market regulates itself or so-called self-regulations. The people or the market knows what is best! Yet, we now reap the whirlwind of non-regulations and large institutions have collapsed and the public (via their Governments – especially in the West) have been asked to bail out these private enterprises because they are adjudged to be “too big to fail” as the system-wide effect of their failures would be too catastrophic for the economy to sustain.

Have we not learned anything from this recent economic mayhem? It is clear that there is none righteous, no not one (Rom 3:10-12) and that in all probability the observation by God of the people in Gen 6:5 may well be applicable to our generation: “And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” No wonder the prophet said in Jer 10:23  “O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” For “there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, But the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pro 16:25).

Man is not going to be successful in the experiment of self-regulation. We need laws and regulations to ensure that people that do not have the best interests of others at heart, should be prevented from taking advantage of those who are susceptible to their insidious, deceptive and manipulative actions.

The Bible teaches that we must submit to higher authorities on earth: “Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of God: and they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgment. For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. And wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same: for he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil.” (Rom 13:1-4)

The higher powers on earth refer to the government or ruler of the day. They must rule so that they will be a terror to the evil-doer. The unfortunate thing is that in many instances especially in the West, the higher powers have failed to properly regulate the conduct of the market and the people who participate in it. Hence, we learn that financial products known as “derivatives” estimated to amount to about USD600 trillion may be the next bubble that may burst, thereby causing another round of economic bloodbath. In many instances, these are merely “side bets” or “gambles” or pure “wagers” as those who engage in them do not have what insurance companies would require for those who would buy insurance policies – an “insurable interest”.  The authorities closed their eyes in spite of warnings by those who knew the potential dangers that these were ‘weapons of mass destruction” (as described by the renowned investor, Warren Buffett).

People today demand liberty and freedom to do what they please. They do not like laws and regulations as they are viewed as archaic and an impediment to the perfect operation of the free market.

The Bible talks about the law of liberty (James 1:25; 2:12) but it is the law that brings liberty or freedom from the slavery of sin (John 8:32, 36) It is not freedom from being subject to any law whatsoever as our system of faith is also referred to as the “law of faith” (Rom. 3:27). We are accountable to God’s law and the Bible states thus in John 12:48-50: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I spake not from myself; but the Father that sent me, he hath given me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life eternal: the things therefore which I speak, even as the Father hath said unto me, so I speak.”

Hence, in James 2:12, the Bible states: “So speak ye, and so do, as men that are to be judged by a law of liberty” and in James 1:25: “But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing.”

The truth is that man is susceptible to being overtaken by trespass. That’s why in Gal 6:1, the apostle Paul wrote thus: “Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” The trespassing refers to contravening the law of God. The trespasser needs to be corrected or restored – otherwise, he is destined for death: “My brethren, if any among you err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.” (Jas 5:19, 20)

We need God’s law as contained in His Word to guide us through life so that we may do right and not do wrong. Man’s philosophy will not work. Man’s free market or laissez –faire approach if not regulated or monitored by the “higher powers” in the land will only bring greater havoc in time to come. The “higher powers” must not abdicate their responsibilities to be a threat or deterrence to those who would do evil – otherwise, evil practices will be rampant. Greed, covetousness, and all the deceptive practices arising there-from are manifest in many instances whether it is in the originating of the NINJA (- i.e. ‘No Income No Jobs or Assets’) mortgage loans or buried under thick documentation such that no one can easily decipher or understand what they are actually investing in or the production of financial statements with the intent of not giving true or fair view of the actual financial position of an entity.

Perhaps we need more good Christian businessmen/entrepreneurs and Christian analysts so that their light may shine in this very dark world – but then we should not be distracted from our calling to preach the Word. The tragedy is that oftentimes, the Christian businessmen are also tempted to follow the ways of their worldly friends – which probably explains why their lights are seldom seen!