The Ancient Paths

Path in the Woods

When it comes to religion, many are like the ones that Paul encountered in Athens. They “spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21). While it may seem interesting or exciting to follow after the next new thing, the pursuit of these new things keeps us from remaining on the path that leads to heaven. We are warned about being “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). Instead of following every new thing that comes along, we must stay on the right path.

The Lord, through Jeremiah the prophet, instructed the people of Jerusalem about the path they ought to follow: “Stand by in the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). The “good way” was found in the “ancient paths,” not in the new paths of modern religion and culture. The “ancient paths” are the paths we must seek out today.

But what are the “ancient paths”? For the Jews in Jeremiah’s day, the “ancient paths” referred to God’s way that He had revealed through Moses. Now, the Law of Moses has been nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14) and we are no longer bound to it. But there are still some “ancient paths” we must walk in if we want to please God.

Jesus commissioned His apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). The early church continued in the apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42). Anyone who failed to remain within the apostles’ doctrine stood condemned (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:6). We are instructed to follow the teachings and traditions handed down by the apostles (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Therefore, these are the “ancient paths” we must follow – the teachings revealed to us in the New Testament.

Also keep in mind that when seeking the path we are to take, we are not to be following just any “old” path. We must follow the right path. There was a specific path in mind when the Lord spoke through Jeremiah. It was the path where the good way was. Just because a thing was practiced a generation or two before us – or even centuries before – that does not mean it is the ancient path we are to be following. There are many old paths that are wrong. We must follow the right path where the good way is.

Furthermore, when one who has not known the way of truth is finally exposed to it (the “ancient paths”), it will seem “new” to them. We may hear something new (to us) that is really part of the “ancient paths” we are to be following. So we must not seek after what seems “old” in our limited experience. We must go back to God’s word – where the good way is – and determine from there what path we ought to take.

We must be careful of following after new things. We are not to be “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). Instead of being driven by our emotions, desires, peers, etc., we must allow ourselves to be directed by God’s word. This is where the good way is. If we want rest for our souls (salvation), we must heed God’s warning and follow His path. Every other path leads to destruction. Let us be content with the “ancient paths,” not longing for something new and different, so we might live faithfully to the Lord.

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