“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7).
When trekking to remote villages in the mountains of Nepal I often go ahead of my Nepali companions and guides. At some point however I always come to a crossing of or fork in the path(s). Sometimes I guess as to the correct route and go on, only to usually be called back to take the other way. It always amazes me however how easily even those Nepalis who have never traveled this way before can determine the proper path. On one early trip a young boy of eleven or twelve would often lead and invariably he would take the right turn, although he had never been in that particular area before.
One develops a feel for direction and a sense of the proper route. Experienced drivers in our country can often predict a turn or route from the general direction indicated, the appearance of the roads, or even subtle differences in road surface and quality. If a wrong turn is taken the mistake is frequently “felt” within only a few miles.
This principle also works in the spiritual realm. Most people want to “do right.” They desire consistency of faith and virtue. Yet temptation is strong and sin is frequent. As Paul said, “The good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Romans 7:19). As we often paraphrase it, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
The answer to this dilemma is found in God?s command to Joshua: “Observe to do all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left.”
There is a correct path which we must travel. It is defined by the commands of the law of God. If we continue in that path, never deviating from it, we will prosper. If we leave that path we will fail. Jesus endorsed this principal with these words:
“Not everyone who says to me, ?Lord Lord,? shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Those who seek the will of God soon develop a feel and a preference for the right path. We learn quickly the kinds of things God approves and the kinds of things which are temptations from Satan. God?s path looks different, feels different, and points in a different direction. To those accustomed to it, no other route holds the promises of the “strait and narrow path that leads to life” (Matthew 7:14).
Do not turn to the right or to the left. Observe and do the commands of God, and you shall prosper.