Many seek the ruler's favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord. Proverbs 29:26
Where do you get justice in our world? Today's proverb weighs in on this issue in a way that reminds us that we need to keep an eternal perspective on all things. This world may seek what they call justice from the officials who rule over it, but true justice for mankind comes from God.
Many do seek the ruler's favor - and consider that justice. The problem comes when you realize that rulers are not always righteous. There are rulers and officials who receive bribes and favors to turn justice toward the one who gave them. Another problem arises when you read the statement that "many" seek the ruler's favor. That means if your bribe is not high enough, you lose. If someone else comes along and offers something more or something better, justice goes to the highest bidder. Such was the case with Haman, Mordecai, and Esther. Haman, angry with Mordecai because he would not bow down to him - paid a ridiculous amount of money to the king to have "his justice" enforced. That justice did not involve punishment on Mordecai - but on the entire nation of Israel. He did not want Mordecai to be punished alone - he wanted the extermination of his entire race. The price was right - and a decree was made to have the Jews destroyed kingdom-wide. Thus goes justice when you seek the ruler's favor. The real problem for Haman though, was the justice he bought was not final. When Esther gave two banquets for the king, told him he was a Jew, and on top of all this the king later learned that Mordecai had saved his life - the price for this justice went much higher. In the end, justice from the king meant Haman's hanging, the destruction of his entire family, and the destruction of Israel's enemies in the city and throughout the kingdom.
God warns those He puts in authority repeatedly against taking bribes perverting justice for a price. Although power can corrupt - and absolute power can corrupt absolutely - God alone is the One Who cannot be corrupted. Therefore wisdom tells us that, "justice for man comes from the Lord." God's justice is based on His perfect righteousness and justice. He does not have such things - He IS such things. God does not base justice on a set of laws given by others - He is the Lawgiver, He is the Source of righteousness, and He is the Judge. His throne is founded on justice and righteousness. When He speaks, He speaks with absolute authority - and - with absolute, perfect just and right decisions. When He speaks and judges - His statements are final - and always beyond question. Here is what He said about Himself when revealing Himself to Moses. "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-8) God is just - but our salvation is not His justice, but His mercy and grace.
Justice for man truly does come from The Lord. The gospel bears this out. God is just and the Justifier of the one who believes in Jesus Christ. He carried out His perfect, absolute justice when Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. If there ever was a time when God might have set aside justice and righteousness - it would have been for His Son. But God's justice is perfect - and Christ had to die for sins for man to be forgiven and made righteous in God's sight. Thus the fullness of God's justice and wrath fell on His Son that day. But . . . as a result, justice for man comes from the Lord. We have a choice - to face the full brunt of God's wrath for our sins ourselves - or to turn to Jesus Christ, believe on Him, and receive grace and mercy. The Just God - had His justice satisfied by the death of His Son for sin. Now He will justify (declare rightoeous) anyone who turns to His Son in repentance and faith. No man can offer such a thing. Therefore the wise man is the one who seeks absolute justice, not from fickle men who can change justice as often as they change socks, but from God. He will not only give just decisions here on earth between men - but will give the ultimate justice to us in heaven - not based on us paying the price of our sins - but based on the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The poor man and the oppressor have this in common: the Lord gives light to the eyes of both. Proverbs 29:13
At first this proverb may sound like a simple statement - something everyone would know. It might also seem as if it is not addressing the real issue to anyone who is living underneath an oppressor. To them that issue would be telling the oppressor to stop oppressing them! But this proverb does exactly what is necessary to address the oppressor. It may not do like we would want - and it may not give us the instant relief we'd like from all oppressors - but God addresses them sufficiently.
What we have here in this proverb is a veiled threat. It is not an empty one - it is just spoken in a way that is not . . . not very "schwartneggaresque." We would like for God to make an "in your face" threat to the oppressor. Tell him stop or I'll smack you upside the head! Tell him that if he keeps oppressing - God will show him what real oppressing looks like! That's what we want. Yet God's statement here is subtle - yet strong.
The Lord addresses the fact that the oppressor and the poor man he oppresses have something in common. He tells the oppressor that the Lord gives light to both of them. That phrase refers not to physical sight - but to giving life itself. To say that God gives light to our eyes means that we are alive because of Him. Now, let's look at how this is a veiled, yet very effective threat. God is telling the oppressor that although he thinks he is a moral free agent - and can do what he wants - that is not true. The reason he is alive - is the same reason the poor man whom he oppresses is alive too. God gave them both life. So how is this a threat?
The oppressor thinks "he" determines who lives and who dies. He is a bully - just on a much larger level. He does not think he will be held accountable - even as he holds the poor man accountable to his oppressive demands. But now God is saying to the oppressor - you are exactly like the poor man you are abusing. I gave light to both of your eyes. Now for the threat. It is implied. God is saying to the oppressor - I gave light to your eyes - and I can take it away. You, my dear oppressor, are NO DIFFERENT than the one whom you oppress. You can't give anyone life - so your power is severely limited. Then God says, "I, on the other hand, give life to anyone who is alive. My power is utterly unlimited. You would do well to remember that."
Sometimes it is the subtle things that can knock us to the ground. Real power does not need to bluster to be recognized. God has His moments of truly "throwing down" and proving He is God beyond any shadow of a doubt. Burning Sodom and Gomorrah off the face of the earth is one of them. Splitting the Red Sea and crushing the greatest army on earth in the midst of it was another. Opening the earth and swallowing Dathan and Abiram could be considered another. Even throwing huge rocks from heaven and destroying those who fought with Joshua might be a fourth. But there are also times when the quietness and subtlety of God are as loud as the thunder of Niagra's mighty falls. It is in those moments that authority is expressing itself in mercy. For the oppressor this is good - for it gives him a chance to repent of his oppressive ways and to turn and embrace the mercy given to him. It warns him to repent and begin showing mercy to thosw who have previously received none from his hand. A wise man would respond immediately because there will be a day when the subtlety of God will end. In that day - he will want to realize how weak he is - and take refuge in God's mercies. The other option is wholly unwise to embrace.
Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him. Proverbs 27:22
The problem with a fool is . . . that he is a fool. I know that sounds like double talk, but the problem is that until the heart of the fool is changed by a work of God, nothing you do will move him from his foolishness. This is not an issue of education or of environment. It is a heart issue - nothing more and nothing less. Today's proverb tells us that no matter what you do to the fool physically - he will not have his foolishness depart from him. You can even put him into a giant mortar with a pestle - and yet even crushing him in this environment along with some grain will not cause his foolishness to depart from him. Just a note: not sure why the grain is put in there - guess it would make wise-guy flour for making some kind of spiritual bread later?
Too many see foolishness as a "learned" behavior. They see it as something that can be fixed by merely by having someone be better educated. If that were true - then the most educated among us would be the wisest. The problem is that many who become very educated get to the point where they reject God in the midst of their supposed knowledge. What they prove in that moment is that they are the exact opposite of wise - for the fool is the one who says in his heart that there is no God. Often very educated men are smart in a classroom and yet very stupid morally. Such examples remind us that God says that we are to guard our hearts with all dilgence. Your mind is important, but not as important as your heart.
No matter your education level, the truth is that you are fallen. You are sinful - and will remain sinful until God's grace changes your heart. As a sinful man or woman, you will make choices that will amaze you. I do not speak of wise choices - but ones that leave you thinking, "Why in the world did I do that?!" The reason you have such moments is that apart from the Spirit of God teaching you the word of God - and then the Spirit of God enabling and empowering you to walk out the Word of God - you will eventually act like a fool. I don't know about those who will read this - but I for my part - even with the work of the Holy Spirit - still have foolish moments in life.
What does this proverb mean for us - who desire to live as wise men and women? It means that we need to give ourselves to a view of change among the foolish that is centered in the gospel and the grace of God. If you cannot get the foolishness out of a man by grinding him in a mortar and pestle with grain - then all thought of human resources being enough to deal with fools and foolishness should be abandoned. This is a God-sized problem - that can only have a God-sized solution. The good news for us though is that God in His wonderful mercy and grace has provided a solution, not based on either our moral or financial abilities. His solution is based out of His own infinite resources of love. He will change us because He has chosen to love us - and will do that because of what He has done in Christ Jesus on the cross. As a result we will no longer have to report to the mortar and pestle room for regular crushings so that we can become wise men and women. This is a good for us, because when I read this proverb I see such a proposition as a very painful one.
He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. Proverbs 14:31
God is very serious how He views the poor - especially when people choose to oppress them and take advantage of them because of their poverty. The warning that we are given here is about oppressing the poor. The poor by their lack of money and influence are people who have a difficult time finding a way to deal with people who trample their rights. They have no money with which to address the legal system. They have no power among elected officials to influence them outside of their one vote. History has proven that there are a couple of groups who oppress the poor. These two groups are the rich and those who want to maintain political power. The rich do so most often by not offering the poor a living wage when it is within their power to do so. In an interest in getting richer, they take the wages that the poor should receive and keep them for themselves. God offers dire warnings to those who do this. The second group are those who use political power to oppress the poor. Even within our government it is advantageous to prevent the poor from bettering themselves by setting up a welfare state that encourages dependence. This is often not recognized as oppressing the poor because it maintains the illusion that the person in political power is helping them. But any system which traps people in poverty is oppressive, even if it oppresses by handing out what at first looks like free money.
Those who oppress the poor are taunting God. Taunting is such an ugly thing. When those who have an upper hand mock those less fortunate, it is disgusting. The Hebrew word indicates a mocking and open reproach of someone else. This is done in a way that deliberately desires to agitate or humiliate someone. The truly frightening thing about this kind of taunting is that the one doing it is infinitely less powerful than God. Usually the stronger one taunts the weaker. Here although the person is stronger in what is openly seen (i.e. the powerful oppressing the poor) they are probably unaware that their actions are taunting the living God. This is the most foolish thing anyone could possibly do. I get a picture of a bully taunting a small child, unaware that their incredibly strong and huge brother is standing behind them watching the whole thing. In that situation, as well as the one mentioned here in Proverbs 14
, someone is about to get a serious beat-down.
The wise man has mercy on the poor. He uses his position of strength and wealth to help them. The word mercy has the idea of being treated in a way we do not deserve. Therefore the wise and godly man remembers how God has treated him - and uses that as a barometer of how he should treat the poor. Maybe someone has become poor due to their own sinfulness. Even in this case we should show mercy and seek to help. This honors God because it reflects His own character in our actions. Whereas the fool taunts God by oppressing and taking advantage of the poor - the wise man wants a reward larger than the riches or power he can get on the backs of the unfortunate. He knows that in the end it will go well with the one who honors God.
He who despises his neighbor sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor. Proverbs 14:21
We continue to be counselled here on our attitude and actions toward the poor. God is truly concerned that we are gracious to the poor, for He Himself was gracious to us when we were poorer than any level of poverty could ever reach. He granted us His very riches in Christ through the gospel - therefore we too should respond with grace and with mercy to those who have little or nothing around us.
This proverb speaks of those who "despise" their neighbor. The one who despises his neighbor looks at his poverty and hates it. He sees no need for mercy or for kindness. He will most likely point out all the reasons why this one is in poverty - and say that is the reason why he should not do anything for the poor. While it is true that we need to give to the poor in a way that does not enable them to continue in sin, there is a need for them to receive genuine love and mercy from those who can help them.
Some despise their poor neighbor because their poverty calls for generosity - and that is hard to have when one is in bondage to a worldview where they are all that matters. They want much for themselves and therefore to give to another is an unwanted trouble. Therefore they despise the poor - and refuse to be gracious and give to their neighbor in need. We are told that such an attitude is sinful. It misses the mark that God has made for us to hit.
It is truly important to see the nature and the actions of God to see why this is such a sinful, wicked attitude. When we refuse to give, we are very much unlike God. He gives to the poor and to the unfortunate. As was said at the beginning of this post, God gave His Son for the poorest of all creatures - sinful man. That should help us understand His basic nature - that He is gracious and giving. We, therefore, should be gracious and giving as well. To be and to do anything else is just sinful.
A fool's anger is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor. Proverbs 12:16
Ours is a society driven by rights and by slights. We are told that we have rights - and as a result of this education we demand them all the time. One of the rights that evidently is near the top of the list is the right never to be offended. That is why we have political correct language that is being ever more strictly enforced in our nation. We cannot say things that will offend anyone else. If the society determines that a certain word or phrase is no longer allowed - that word or phrase is banished from our circles. If someone were so foolish as to speak that word of phrase - he too will be banished - even fired from his job. If he is in the public eye - he will be summarily destroyed and cast upon the trash heap for the foreseeable future - possibly forever. We are the nation with the greatest law protecting free speech (our first ammendment) but also the greatest number of unwritten laws that restrict our speech as well as punish any who dare step over the line.
Our proverb today would help us greatly with our problems societally. We are first warned that only a fool's anger is known at once. The fool has no patience, therefore he is often disgusted and angry with others around him. He takes up the slighest offence - whether overt or covert - and becomes vexed about it immediately. The word for anger here is the Hebrew word "kaas" which means to be provoked to anger. The problem is that this man is easily provoked - and lets his anger blow the moment that he is. As we read here - his anger is know at once. He is unable to control himself - and also unable to let things roll off his back like water off of a duck. Every slight - every potential offence is taken to the deepest part of his being and fully embraced. There is little wonder therefore that he has a tendency to lose it whenever this happens. He is offended - angry - disgusted - and filled with rage toward whoever has knowingly or unknowingly slighted him.
The prudent man is the one who conceals this anger and offence. He is able to ignore the slights and snubs of life. He is able to deal with the insults and general indignities of living in the fallen world. Because he knows the world is fallen - he is aware that things like this are bound to happen. Because he knows he too is fallen - he is aware of the need to be gracious and kind as he carries on life in this world. He has learned to conceal dishonor. The word for dishonor here parallels the Hebrew word for forgiveness. He chooses to forgive and show mercy and grace rather than demand judgment and justice for every slight. He has learned that the merciful are blessed, for they too receive mercy.
Learning to be a prudent and wise man in this way will help you live much longer. The word prudent here is the Hebrew word "arum" which has the idea of being sensible. A sensible man knows that unless he wants his world to be in a continual state of stress, anger, rage, and bitter unforgiveness - he needs to let insults and vexation they can cause roll off of him. By this he keeps his blood pressure down - and his friendships up. If you are prone to become angry and blow off steam in almost every situation beware. You are ruining your own life and living like a fool. Be wise - be understanding - and be aware of the fallen world in which you live. Show mercy and grace - for it will bring you joy even in the midst of a world filled with plenty of ways to become frustrated and angered.
The merciful man does himself good, But the cruel man does himself harm. Proverbs 11:17
There is a way to live that will guarantee that we will be greeted with good from others. There is also a way of living and interacting with others that may give us an advantage in the short term, but in the long term will do us tremendous harm. The difference between these two lifestyles is found in how they treat others - especially when someone has done something wrong to them.
Our proverb begins by introducing us to someone called "the merciful man." This is the man who is gracious to others when they wrong him. He is called the "merciful man" because he delights in showing mercy to others. Mercy is best described this way. Not getting what we deserve. That may not sound all that great until you realize that the context for mercy is when you do something wrong, or act in a way that merits punishment. The man who shows mercy to others is willing to endure beging wronged. He does not always demand "fair" treatment when it comes to himself. He does not demand his pound of flesh whenever he is wronged. By doing this the Bible says that he does himself good. The literal Hebew here reads, "he does good to his own soul."
There are actually two benefits to being a "mercy-man." The first benefit is that others who receive mercy from you are far more likely to show you mercy as well. Jesus, in the Beattitudes, said this same thing. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." When we show mercy, others are more apt to show us mercy as well. The second benefit is one we receive inwardly. The passage says that we do our souls' good. When we react with anger to every supposed slight and wrong, our spirit and our emotions are in a constant turmoil. That is not healthy for us - because stress levels will be elevated all the time. But when we learn to show mercy (and not take ourselves so seriously in the process) it will do wonders for our stress level.
The end of today's proverb deals with the problems that the "cruel man" brings upon himself. We read that the cruel man does himself harm. The Hebrew word for "cruel" here means someone who is fierce and who lacks any kind of sensitivity, compassion, or mercy towards others. Since we have an example from our news, I will use it to illustrate this. Ghadaffi was the leader of the nation of Libya. He was a living example of a "cruel man." He ruled with an iron fist over his people. He was not known for his wonderful acts of mercy, but rather for his horrible acts of cruelty. The day came when he no longer had an army to protect him. The media informed us of his last moments on this earth. He hid in a drainage pipe, hoping to escape those who were hunting him down. When they found him they treated him just as he had treated others. I won't go into detail as to what was done to him, but it was a horrible end. His cruelty was the example that was set for the people of his country. No wonder when he was caught he was subjected to the same lack of compassion and kindness he was known to use upon others.
The way we respond to others will prepare the way for our own treatment in life. That is why the man who chooses to show mercy will have good come upon him for his choice. The cruel man has a much different end. Having chosen a lack of compassion throughout his lifetime of interaction with others, he has nothing except the overflow of his own cruelty awaiting him in this life - and the full measure of God's wrath in the next.
"Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; Proverbs 1:24
We are examining the first chapter of Proverbs and seeing why it is not always the best thing to only have positive messages in the church and in our Christian lives. Here we see the reality that some do not receive what God is saying to them. They refuse to turn to God as He issues a call to them through His Word and His wisdom.
Too many get bent out of shape when they hear that God has to call us for us to be saved. They pretty much freak out when they are told that on their own they would never come to God because they are dead in their sins. They do not realize that God in His mercy does call men to Himself. But the truth is that even when God calls - men reject Him. Even when He allows them to hear His counsel, His reproof, His encouragment to turn from their sin to follow Him - they reject it. That is what is made clear here in this section of Scripture. God tells us that he called - but the fool refuses that call. The idea of refusal here involves a rejection not just of the message - but also of the Messenger.
God is showing great mercy and grace to men in stretching out His hand to them. Their sin should receive a stretched out hand - to discipline and bring them under God's judgment. But that is not what the Lord is trying to do here. He is wanting to instruct - to make His words known to those He calls (vs. 23). As He stretches out His hand in mercy, what does He receive? Nothing . . . no one pays any attention to what He is saying. This coincides with the truth in the New Testsament that, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23
). It also is a testament to Romans 3:10-12
which says, ". . . as it is written, there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." Men, by their very nature reject God. Due to their deadness in sin, they will refuse Him and reject Him. But there is an even more amazing truth that this.
It is an amazing thing to read here that men reject and refuse God. It is astounding that they do not even pay attention to what He is saying. But what is more amazing is that immediately after He is rejected God does not let judgment fall in that very moment. But God is merciful in that He responds with further mercy. But this passage is not a reminder of that mercy. It is meant to be a stark reminder of how foolish it is to reject God when He does stretch out His hand and offer counsel, reproof, and instruction.
What should we learn from today's Proverb of the day? We learn that to receive God's wisdom and offer of instruction is the greatest of mercies. We learn that Jehovah God does this over and over again - offering mercy and grace that is rejected by sinful men. But the real question for us today is what are WE going to do when we are aware that God is wanting to give us His Words - and correct us from a way that is not in accordance with His will? Are we going to refuse and reject Him? Are we going to see His outstretched arms - and not even pay attention?
It might benefit us greatly to read a passage from Hebrews 2
that offers a warning to us - a warning that we should pay "much closer attention" to the times where God is speaking to us. Hebrews 2:1-3
offers us this godly counsel on this matter, "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" May we learn to listen with great passion and intensity when the Lord speaks to us - and may we not be guilty of neglecting so great a salvation when God offers not just His grace in Christ initially - but when He continues to save us from sin as He sanctifies us daily by His Word and His Spirit.
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Or the LORD will see it and be displeased, And turn His anger away from him. Proverbs 24:17-18Here is a reminder to be gracious and merciful to our enemies. We should have mercy on our enemies - even when God is the One who is bringing the judgment upon them. That may seem a little strange to us at first, but if you will give me just a few moments, you will soon see why this is wise for us.When we are walking with God, we will have enemies. That is a given in our fallen world. But when God displays His anger toward someone - we should not be on the sidelines cheering for their judgment. We can cheer God's justice - but we should do so with a measure of fear and trembling. The reason for this is because we need to remember who WE are.We are beneficiaries of God's mercy - not His judgment. If God were to judge us for our actions - we would quickly learn that we too, apart from His grace, are His enemies. There is something to grasp - and it is important that we keep it fresh in our minds. Were it not for what God did in Jesus Christ, we would be under His wrath and anger as well. It is only because of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross that we are not currently under God's anger. Therefore, we do not need to rejoice when our enemy stumbles and falls. We need to remember that except for the grace of God, we would be enemies as well. To dance and sing over someone's destruction also is not what God desires from us. Paul was mercilessly persecuted by the Jews as he preached the gospel. He faced opposition in many cities - and in one he was dragged out and stoned. They sought to have him condemned in court once he was arrested by the soldiers of Rome - and that arrest was because of their wrongful accusation of him. Yet how did Paul respond to them? Did he desire their destruction? Did he cheer when they were judged and destroyed? Paul's response in Romans was that he wished himself accursed for their sakes - if only that would result in their salvation. That does not sound like someone who is rejoicing over the anger of God against his enemies. That sounds like someone who grasps that he is the chief of sinners. That sounds like a man who grasps that apart from grace he took would be accursed, damned if you will because of his sin. And it was this grasp of spiritual realities that led Paul to respond with mercy - not rejoicing over his enemies and their position before God.The Lord sees when men rejoice over the stumbling and falling of their enemy - and it displeases Him. He is judging with a righteous judgment - but we have no standing upon which to take joy in another's fall. We all would face the same fate as they, were it not for a merciful God. When God watches us rejoice over someone else's destruction - He is displeased. The Bible also tells us that He will turn away His anger from them. What is pretty frightening is that most likely His displeasure might be refocused - on us! When I consider this passage - I remember a historical event from 2 Kings chapter 6. Elisha was prophet at the time, and it enraged the king of Aram that Elisha knew his secret war counsels and would warn Israel where Aram was about to attack. The king of Aram sent his army to surround Elisha in order to capture or kill him. Elisha saw the armies of Aram surround his city and prayed that God would strike the entire army with blindness. God answered Elisha - and he told the blind army to follow him. He led the army into the center of Israel's territory where they were now surrounded by Israel, who readied themselves for the slaughter. But when Elisha prayed that their eyes would be opened - the king of Israel asked if he should kill Aram's armies? I love God's response in this matter. Elisha told the king of Israel not to kill them - but to make a feast for them - showing them the ultimate mercy. This ended their hostilities. What a great picture of God's ways. God is angry with us due to our sins - He is angry every day with the wicked. But . . . He does not bring judgment - but shows mercy. It is His mercy that leads us to repentance - and He desires for us to show the same mercy to our enemies that He shows to us. What a glorious picture of His grace this leaves us. Therefore we should not rejoice at the fall of our enemy. We should pour love on them in Jesus name, no matter what their response. This is wisdom. This is God's way. This is the power of God that brings men to salvation - and to a change in how He views them. What He desires is for us to rejoice in mercy - and tremble at the display of His anger. It is a solemn reminder of what could have been ours, if we had not been saved by His grace.
Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will. Proverbs 14:9
How a person views and deals with sin determines whether they are wise or they are foolish. Here we have Solomon teaching us the important lesson that how a man views the whole concept and reality of sin is vitally important. If we miss this - and decide how a person sees sin is not really important to us - we will find ourselves in the company of those who are fools. We will find ourselves allowing those who think sin does not even exist - be those who counsel us as to how we should have a sound mind.
The fact that we are bypassing this issue - especially when it comes to our worldview - is wreaking havoc on the church. Let me explain for a moment, because this issue is absolutely vital to us today. How a man views sin will ultimately either bless or corrupt everything he does. Most philosophies actually reject the idea of sin. They see our problem as a lack of education - or a lack of opportunity for people. Some even see the problem as believing that there is truth upon which we define and state whether actions and choices are sinful or not. They reject the very idea of sin - and consider guilt as a root problem for all people. The way they deal with this is to make truth an issue of individuality. Your truth is your truth - and you are free to live however you want based on what you consider to be true. Thus, if your truth states that there is no sin - that guilt is a bad thing - then that is true for you. This denial of sin goes further because it asserts that no one has the right to call your truth falsehood. You can imagine the problems this makes for a society in which everyone is a free agent, determining what is right or wrong for themselves. Actually it is not much different from the book of Judges where there was no God and every man did what was right in his own eyes. In this kind of society rules are constantly shifting like blowing sand. The end of this is a state in which a growing ungodliness and lawlessness begins to take root. By the way - this eventually leads to a culture of corruption and violence that is out of control. The people begin calling for someone to rise up and restore order - which in turn gives rise to a dictator who then re-establishes "order" according to "his rules." If you would like to know when this has happened in history, take a look at the Weimar Republic - which gave rise to Hitler's Germany. It has also happened in numerous examples of dictatorships of every stripe.
Mankind is best ruled by God's law established in their hearts by the work of His grace. But until men come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ - it is so necessary for a Law to be established because of the wickedness of man's fallen heart. Here we see why it is so important to define sin - and define it according to God's Word. If God has revealed Himself in the Bible, then we know how to define righteousness - truth - and what is and what is not sin. This becomes the bedrock of laws that are established in a nation. But the best thing - which our founders realized - is that men's hearts be ruled according to God's law. Our founders knew this - and thus were pinning their hopes on a heart initially ruled by God's 10 commandments. This set of God's laws would restrain so much sin and ungodly behavior - that then a society could be ruled by fewer laws. But where there is no law - there is no sin. Since our nation has rejected the 10 commandments as an illegal document by which to rule our nation, then we are left to the shifting sands of public opinion and man's evil heart to govern us. Is it any wonder that our laws continue to degrade - allowing just about any conduct to be considered legal - but not just legal - acceptable. In the end the Bible tells us where this will go - as men call good evil and evil good. Watch closely, dear saints, as more and more Biblical positions will be considered illegal by those who mock at sin. But there is even a greater evil that is foisted upon us by mocking at sin.
When sin is mocked - when the whole idea of guilt is abandoned - then there is no real reason for a Savior. The second half of this proverb states that among the upright there is "good will." The word used here for "good will" means "the favor of God." When the concept of sin is rejected by the philosophies of this present world - then there is no need for any kind of redemption from it. If we are not guilty of anything before God, then it seems pretty arrogant of God to call for the death of His only Son to pay for . . . "nothing." Follow where your philosophy ultimately leads you. If you mock at and deny guilt and sin - and this is where it leads. That is why we have modern day preachers in the church calling the death of Christ, "divine child abuse."
Without sin and guilt - there is actually no wrong behavior. But a corollary to this doctrine is that without wrong behavior - neither is there any real "upright" behavior either. All things become neutral - and the matter of individual hearts. You have no business in that society stating your view on anything. To do so is to risk the danger of being called "judgmental." The problem is that there IS WRONG BEHAVIOR! We all know it in our conscience. The only way to rid ourselves of this is to sear our conscience as with a hot iron.
The fact is that there is sin - whether men mock it or not. There is a guilt that comes with breaking God's Law. That guilt and that offense is real - and it poses a serious problem. According to God's Word, sin and guilt require accountability and punishment. There is an earthly punishment meted out by men in the governmental sphere (Romans 13
) - but the real problem is the divine retribution for rebellion and sin. The good will - i.e. grace - that the upright know is one given not by works, but by grace through faith. God has provided the way through Jesus Christ - His death, burial, and resurrection. That is given as a gift to those who respond when God grants knowledge and conviction of sin, repentance, and faith to the sinner through the gospel. When we look at the amazing thing God has done for us - and His infinite mercy in granting it to us - we have to come to the same conclusion that our proverb states to us today. Only a fool would disdain this grace . . . only a fool would disregard the wonderful work of God's conviction by the Spirit . . . and mock sin. By doing so, he also mocks the grace that is freely given to those made upright by it. He mocks the gospel.