Throughout every age, man has been subject to a Divine pattern. Noah was given a Divine pattern by which he was to build the ark. God commanded:
Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it…Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he (Gen. 6:14-16, 22).
God was very specific in regards to what He required of Noah. Divine pattern was also to be adhered to during the Mosaic period. God was definitive in regards to His instructions to the children of Israel and did not tolerate anything to the contrary. The actions of Nadab and Abihu serve as evidence.
Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord (Lev. 10:1-2).
Nadab and Abihu lost their lives because they did that which God “commanded them not.” When God authorized the building of the altar of burnt incense, He instructed Aaron to, “offer no strange incense thereon” (Exo. 30:9). The pattern which Nadab and Abihu followed is quite different from the one followed by their father, Aaron, not too long after their deaths.
God told Aaron to take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not (Lev. 16:12-13).
The New Testament also teaches a pattern for man today. Paul, by inspiration, commended the Christians at Rome: God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18).
These individuals were only “made free from sin” after they obeyed the pattern given to them by God. Had they obeyed any teaching other than “that form of doctrine,” they would have still been “servants of sin.” Paul told the church at Galatia, “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).
The pattern for salvation and the explanation for how one is added to Christ’s church, is first recorded in Acts 2. Those Jews heard the Word of God (Acts 2:14), “they were pricked in their heart” (2:37), proving they believed what they heard, they repented of their past sins and were baptized in order to have those sins forgiven (2:38) and because of their obedience, God added them to His church (2:47). By following that same pattern, man can be saved and added today to the church for which Christ died. God also designed a pattern for the way in which He desired His people to worship Him (John 4:24) and a pattern for how He wanted His church organized (cf. Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Tim. 3:1-13).
By providing man with a pattern to observe, God has excluded all other patterns, thus furnishing us with examples that we are not to follow. The apostle John states, “Beloved, follow not that which is evil” (3 John 11). “Peter and the other apostles answered” the Jewish leaders of the first century, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Paul beseeches:
brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:1-2).
Throughout antiquity, man has desired to fit in and conform to his surroundings:
All the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations (1 Sam. 8:4-5).
God’s chosen people rejected God as their King (8:7) and longed for an earthly king in order to be like all the nations round about them. God warned His people not to “follow a multitude to do evil” (Exo. 23:2). The danger that awaits those who do follow the crowd of unrighteousness is utter destruction. The majority rejected the preaching of Noah and they all died in the flood (Gen. 7:22-23). The majority following after the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah and were overthrown with fire and brimstone (19:24-25). We should be extremely wary when men contend that we should agree with them simply because “everyone else does.” It has been said many times and in many ways, “Wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it. Right is right even if nobody is doing it.”
God calls upon Christians to be “a peculiar people” (1 Pet. 2:9)—a people who come out from among those who are wicked and practice error (2 Cor. 6:17). The inspired Paul states: “now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2 The. 3:6).
The Bible clearly teaches that Christians are not to fashion themselves after the ways of the world nor after that which seems to be most popular. In regards to error and the practice of sin, Christians are to be “non-conformers.”