And you say, "How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! Proverbs 5:12
Pride goes before a fall . . . into sexual sin. This entire chapter is a father's advice and counsel to his son. The issue which is being discussed is that of sexual immorality - with an emphasis on the adulterous and immoral woman. Toward the end of his instruction Solomon tells his sons that there will come a day when their aduiltery will be brought to light by God. When that day happens, we are told that the one who followed after these sins will not be truly repentant. Instead he will speak of how he hated all that teaching about adultery being sin. He ignored all that garbage that the Bible had to say about morals. He will say it even as his life is in shambled about him - due to his sexual immorality.
The two words used in this verse are instructive to us about what our attitude becomes toward God's call for holy living. The first word is "sane" which means to hate. The word means to loathe, dislike, and even despise another, their actions or their words. Here the sexually immoral man hates the instruction of the Bible on sex. He also "spurns" reproof. The word for "spurn" is the Hebrew word "na'as" which means to revile, reject, and scorn. This word has the idea that the one doing this is very unhappy and angry as they do this. Thus when reproof comes their way - they can spew angry and unhappy words as they hate what they are hearing. I've had the unfortunate responsiblity to confront people about sexual immorality - and have faced the vitriol that comes toward those who dare to speak against the spirit of this age, which fully embraces a full and free expression of sexuality without any limits.
A quick look at the Biblical record of people who were given over to sexual immorality shows that they were very rebellious to the message of God's Word. Whether that was an appeal to the Law of God - or the appeal of one of God's prophets, they hated when they were rebuked. Just like this passage says, they spurned God's reproof and would not listen to the teachers God sent them. Sexual sin blinds us to the truth - and the further we go into it - the worse that blindness becomes. All that is visible is the desire for more that knaws at those who reject the morality God calls us to follow.
God warns us in Romans chapter 1 that ignoring His commands concerning sexuality, (Which are simply this - sex is only acceptable in a marriage relationship between a man and a woman - all other sexual activity - heterosexual immorality, monosexuality, or homosexuality are sin) ignoring them is sin. When we reject this - God gives us over to our sin - first in more bondage to fornication heterosexually - and eventually to homosexuality, as a sign that we are further being given over to our sin. What is a little frightening is that by the end of Romans - we have a society that has rejected pretty much all that God commands - and heartily approve of others who live as they do - rejecting God's way. There is a steady move away from God, away from listening to Him and His Word, and away from any kind of teachable mindset.
A wise man sees far enough into a sexually immoral lifestyle to know that it will hurt him in many ways. We've seen from prior verses that health and relationships are destroyed by it. Now we see that one's relationship to truth is greatly harmed by it - as well as their relationship with the God Who gave His Word to us. Some think they can tinker with immorality without consequence to their relationship with God. After reading and looking at today's proverb - the wise man knows better, and instead submits himself to God's Word. The stakes are just too high to ignore what God says here.
An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression. Proverbs 29:22
A man who flares his nostrils and who is easily filled with passionate anger about things is not going to be a godly or wise man. That is what today's proverb teaches us. Let's look at how anger that is not controlled by the Spirit of God can be a very dangerous thing in our lives.
The "angry man" in this proverb is one who often flares his nostrils. That picture to the Hebrew was a picture of a man who often became angry. We read that this is not wise because such a man often stirs up strife. His easily angered temperment will be the source of much fighting. He will not be long suffering and patient. He will grumble and complain thereby stirring up strife and anger in others. This will lead to a situaiton where he seems to be constantly surrounded by others who are angry - or who have grievances against the ones he is angry with as well. There will be a controversy swirling about him that never seems to die down. Problems and broken relationships will be all around him as the proverbial pot is always being stirred.
This man is likened to a "hot-tempered" man. His temperment is set so that it will boil over very easily. He becomes angry quickly - and that anger will lead to arguments and problems often. Contrary to this is the man surrendered to the Holy Spirit whose fruit is peace, patience, gentleness - and - self-control. Slights and problems roll off the Spirit filled man like water off a duck's back. He is a peacemaker and as such is known as one of the sons of God.
King Saul had these bad traits in his life. He perceived a slight when the women sang that He had slain thousands and David ten thousands. Jealousy and envy bred anger in King Saul that boiled over in many angry and hot-tempered acts. He was well known for dealing with his anger not by patience and long-suffering, but by throwing spears. He threw them at David because of his jealousy. He threw them because he did not want to deal with his own sin - and came to hate David for how God was with him. He eventually threw them at his own son because he dared love and protect David. His hot-tempered ways led him to kill all the priests in the city of Nob becasue he raged against the priest seeking The Lord on David's behalf. His uncontrolled anger led him away from God and into abounding levels of transgression and sin. That is what our proverb warns against today. We are warned that an uncontrolled temper let loose in fits of anger will land us in an abundance of sin. If we are not careful we will wind up like Saul whom God would not answer - and whom God removed because of his sin.
Patience is a virtue. It is a godly thing to be able to handle a slight - an insult - a perceived put down - and act graciously and godly - without a descent into a fit of anger. A wise man knows that it is not the estimation of men that matters - but the Word of God. Be careful therefore to learn graciousness, kindness, and the ability to be slow to anger. That is the heart of our God - and when we are filled with His Spirit and instructed by His Word - our's as well.
When the wicked increase, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall. Proverbs 29:16
There is a principle at work here - and one that has been seen again and again in the world. The more the wicked increase in a society, the more that the society will turn toward wickedness. This is not a recent phenomenon - it has been happening ever since the fall of man. In fact, one of the most powerful examples of it was not long after man fell into sin.
We read in Geneis chapter 6 of this kind of situation. "Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose." The progression here is fascinating to see. First the wicked began to multiply. You might wonder why I think the wicked multiplied - and not the godly. The reason for this is because man is sinful - and will always orient himself toward his sin and ungodliness unless God intervenes by His grace to change things. The next step was that the wicked began to modify - and they modified God's intention for marriage. They married at will - based on something other than God's plan. This led to the wicked multipliying even more. The god-desired role of the family was perverted and rather than pass on godliness - men began to pass on and even grow in his wickedness.
We read in verse 5 of that same chapter of Genesis, "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Two more things began to happen. The wicked began to magnify their wickedness. God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth. The original intent for creation was to magnify the Creator, God. Now it was filled with men who magnified the creation, man. The second thing that happened was the the Wicked began to meditate on their wickedness. Every intent of the thoughts of their heart became evil continually. God's desire was for men to meditate on Him and His Word - instead, they meditated on their godless desires - which led to even worse conditions.
The wicked then turned to mayhem and murder in their wickedness. God said the following to Noah about this in verse 13 of chapter 6 of Genesis. “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth." James warns us in chapter 4 of his letter that the cause of our fighting is our lusts that wage war within us. This leads us to even kill so that we can fulfill our lusts that rage for more within us. The sad ending of all this is that the choices of the wicked led to the condemnation of the wicked. God destroyed that generation.
As we turn our attention back to our proverb - we see just what Solomon is communicating to his sons - and to all who would read these words. When the wicked increase, transgression among men increases as well. But in the end the righteous will see their fall. Wickedness cannot reign long in a land - it consumes it to a point of catastrophe. It did so in Noah's day - and we read that as it was in the days of Noah, so also it shall be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man. The ungodly will always be ungodly - and the wicked will seek to multiply their wickedness. But what is there for us to learn from this - just don't be wicked? No, there is a message for us today - one that will magnify the grace of God in the gospel.
How can we keep the wicked from increasing? Every time a child is born - another ungodly heart enters the human race. We are fallen - and we multiply into more fallen men and women over time. The answer lies in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the ONLY way that we can stem the tide of the wicked multiplying on the earth. We must multiply! We must be about sharing Jesus Christ with all who are around us. We must take the one thing that can take a wicked heart and transform it into a godly one. That one thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ! Jesus sent us into the world to make disciples of all the nations. As the early church took that mandate seriously they multiplied disciples - leading them to Christ - baptizing them as they identified with Christ - teaching them to obey all Jesus commands - and then doing it in each and every generation until the end of the age. This, and only this, can stand against the wicked and their wickedness multiplying in a society! May God give us grace to accept no substitutes in this matter - no political or social or military option which in the end will only fail. May we see that the glorious mandate to minister the gospel - and make disciples IS God's only answer for our world!
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13
Here is a proverb that agrees perfectly with what is said in the New Testament. We read in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is the truth of 1 John 1:9 stated in another way. Whereas the 1 John passage states this truth in the positive only, this proverb also warns us of the consequences and danger of not dealing with our sins.
The Concealer . . . First we are told about the fate of the one who conceals his transgressions. The word "conceal" means to cover - and has the idea of a cover up. This man is hiding his transgressions (word meaning a sin or rebellion - here against God and His Law and His way). Thus the concealer is not willing to bring his sin to light before God. He therefore hides his rebellion thinking that God does not see him. This same word was used to describe how Joseph's brothers tried to hide their sin when they dipped his coat in goat's blood and brought to Jacob. There was an attempted cover up by Joseph's brothers which eventually came to light. In the same way, we are warned against covering up our sins. They will come to light - and the way this happens in by a loss of the blessing of God.
Psalm 32:5 also speaks of his particular sin of hiding and trying to cover up our sin. The Psalmist says, "I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah." When he was trying to hide his sin from God, the Psalmist had nothing but grief and pain. When he faced his sin before God he received forgiveness. Hiding our sins is not only counterproductive - it is also ridiculously foolish. We serve a God Who is omniscient. He knows all things. When Adam and Eve tried to hide in the garden - it was out of shame and rebellion. The problem for them was that God could still see them - and did even as they committed the first sin. Cain answered God rebelliously when God asked where his brother Abel was. Cain must have thought God did not see - but he did - and Abel's blood was crying out to God from the ground. Moses thought he could kill the Egyptian and hide him in the piles of grain - but God saw - as well as some other Hebrews. HEre is a fact you should always remember. We can never hide our sin from a holy, omniscient God. He truly sees all! He warns his people, "Be sure that your sins will find you out!"
Proverbs tells us that this man who is trying to conceal his sin will not prosper. Prosper is the Hebrew word "tsalach" which means to succeed or to be victorious. This word has the idea of breaking out or breaking through - and has a military aspect to it. It spoke of how an army would break through their enemies - which was a sure sign that they were about to win the battle and defeat them. Proverbs says to us is that concealing our sins is way to ensure we will NOT PROSPER. God wants us to confess and forsake our sin. When we choose rebellion and sin against God, we are in serious trouble. We are facing judgment if we do not know Christ - or discipline if we do. What we need is grace - we need God's compassion. That is exactly what Proverbs is wanting to teach us. God wants us to know how to obtain His compassion when we sin?
How do we obtain God's compassion and restoration? First, we confess our sins and rebellion. What is fascinating here is the word that God uses to describe confession. The Hebrew word is "yadah." This word means to throw towards - to cast something towards. Here it means to throw off our sin and cast it towards God. It means that we are throwing all our sin and rebellion to God - with a desire for Him to show us forgiveness and compassion. What is wild is that this same word is used for praising God - meaning that we are casting our hands up into the air and casting our praises toward God. God does not want us to try to hold our sins close to us - He wants us to cast those sins away from us and toward Him for His compassion and grace!
There is a second thing that puts us in line for God's compassion and forgiveness. Some teach that all we need to do is to confess our sins and everything is fine with God. That is partially true. There is suppose to be a second attitude present. If it is not - I do not believe the Bible says that we will receive forgiveness. That attitude or action is to forsake our sins. This word means to abandon, desert, leave behind, completely neglect and STOP. When we come to God seeking His compassion and forgiveness - we need to come with a heart that says, "Please forgive me God . . . and I also want to forsake and abandon my sin." This is the kind of heart that finds compassion and forgiveness before God.
This verse is vital in us knowing the fellowship and grace of God. It is so important for us to grasp the call of God to deal with our sins and rebellion. I honestly believe that just as 1 John 1:9 is such a blessed verse - this verse in Proverbs 28:13 is as well. Oh that we would hear this and heed it as well. It would throw open to us the door to God's grace, mercy, and compassion that we need every day of our lives.
Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts. Proverbs 20:30
Physical punishment . . . here is a topic that brings out the most strident opposition in a lot of people. When it refers to children some call it child abuse - and when it comes to the punishment of those who break the law the phrase "cruel and unusual punishment" is used. So what exactly is God's take on the idea of corporal punishment and some kind of physical response to disobedience and criminal activity?
There are two levels to understand this Proverb - that of the physical and the responsibility of parents and the state - and a purely spiritual level and how it relates to our growth in a relationship with the Lord. I'll begin with what is being addressed most clearly here - which is the response of parents and governing officials to disobedience and crime.
Our justice system has turned away from the biblical view of crime and punishment. We try to rehabilitate criminals without thought that they need to acknowledge that they've stepped over a very serious line in their behavior. The results are not encouraging at all. We have overcrowded jails and prisons where repeat offenders abound. We've gotten to the point where we have more people interested in the rights of the criminals than in the rights of those they infringed upon with their godless behavior. Our prisons therefore have revolving doors on them - and with the present focus, there are few who are rehabilitated while incarcerated. Put our current record next to one of a modern state that practices physical punishment for a crime. Several years ago a young American citizen was arrested from a crime in one of these states. He was convicted and sentenced to a caning. People in the United States, especially among liberals, went ballistic. Yet the facts should be viewed without all the hysteria. Their crime rates are much lower than ours. What they see currently and have seen in the past is that truly stripes and strokes do scour away evil in the heart. They do reach the innermost parts of a person. They are a very powerful deterrent to crime and disobedience.
The spiritual level is little diffeerent. God disciplines those He loves and, according to Hebrews 12, He scourges every son He accepts. How does God deal with His own children? He disciplines them with scourgings - stripes and strokes that scour away the evil of our hearts and make us think twice about being disobedient again. We are fallen beings and have a sad tendency to ignore God and His commandments and turn instead to what our flesh cries out for constantly. The way God deals with this is to bring us into discipline. Anyone who has ever experienced this discipline knows that it is stern but loving. There is no doubt that God loves us when He disciplines us - but He is dead serious about it too. He knows what is at stake - and is wanting to deter us from walking in rebellion and sin. These things will hurt us - and in some cases even destroy us - therefore He takes it very seriously a trip to the proverbial spiritual woodshed. But do not ever be mistaken . . . God does these things because He loves us. The same should be said for parents and for a society that crafts effective physical punsihments for those who break the law.
Physical punishment and corporal punishment may be unpopular with the liberal elements of our society - but in all honesty, they are wrong. Yes there need to be limits put in place - there needs to be a humane way to practice the death penalty - and there should be wisdom in a parents administration of discipline. Yet there also should be a full acknowledgement that the sinful nature of man will not respond to a call to reform alone. It is in the best interests of a family - and indeed a society to practice physical and corporal punishment. How do we know? The Word of God informs us.
When a wicked man comes, contempt also comes, And with dishonor comes
scorn. Proverbs 18:3
The wicked man mentioned here is one who is guilty of doing a wrong - thus a criminal or a transgressor. This is a man who has sinned against others in what he has done. We are told in this proverb that when this kind of man comes - contempt also comes. The contempt mentoined here is an attitude of disrespect and scron towards him. Thus when the wicked man comes around there is also disrespect and scorn. There is something about someone who breaks the law - who disregards what is right - that brings about a response of scorn and disgust. Look at the recent events surrounding Tiger Woods. He was viewed as a man of great integrity and honor until it became known that he was having multiple affairs. Suddenly all the respect turned to scorn. This is how a wicked man - a law breaker is received.
The rest of the proverb tells us that with dishonor comes scorn. Dishonor here refers to something disgraceful and full of shame. When this kind of thing comes, then scorn comes as well. This word means a reproach, a taunting - usually hurled at an enemy or someone who is ungodly. The wicked may be able to hide many of their actions for a time - but eventually things will come to light. When they do - then comes the contempt, the shame, the disgrace, and the scorn and reproach. It is better to walk with the Lord and keep to His paths and ways - than to face the reward of the wicked - contempt and scorn.
It is also not good to fine the righteous, nor to strike the noble for their uprightness. Proverbs 17:26
Today's proverb has to do with the issues of injustice in a society. By the time this kind of injustice begins to take place, a society is beginning to experience its death throes. When what is good is called evil and what is evil is called good, very dangerous days lie ahead for that society. It will not endure long when this begins to happen. Then we read that is it not good to fine the righteous. These are the godly ones who follow the rules. They are being fined and punished by their government - which is wrongly defining the righteous and the wicked - the noble and the ignoble.
According to this passage - the righteous are being fined. We are beginning to see this more often in our country. People, doing what is right and good - are being fined for being successful - fined for doing what is right. The reason for this is because the society itself is beginning to call what is good evil and what is evil good. That is a point where the society begins a downward spiral.
Not only are the righteous being fined - but the noble and godly one is being struck simply because they are righteous. Consider today's world in which the godly man says homosexuality is a sin - agreeing with God and what He has revealed to us in His Word. This creates a problem with an ungodly society that says that we should not only tolerate all sexual choices – we should celebrate them! Thus in our society we have the righteous being fined and honestly, threatened with jail time if they continue to hold views contrary to those being forced upon the rest of the populace. Here is where we find the righteous being fined and the noble being struck. Consider the radical homosexual movement which has gone so far as to invade churches – throwing condoms on the membership while two lesbians passionately kiss on the stage area. In such a society righteousness and uprightness has been redefined by the more deviant parts of society. Anyone who holds to a biblical view of such things is labeled a “hater” or is called “intolerant” or even accused of committing a “hate crime” because of their views.
Before you think I am picking on the Gay movement – we also have problems standing for biblical morality when it comes to other issues too. Issues like abortion, purity before marriage, racism, greed, work ethic, and a host of others also bring out the worst in our society. Let’s face it . . . we are a fallen people who do not appreciate biblical morality. We hate God’s ways – because we love sin. This is why societies get to the point where they fine the righteous and strike the upright.
These are the signs or a rapidly declining cultures. They are signs that there are very serious problems within the society. The rotting morals of a nation have begun to taken hold when we see the abuse of the righteous and the upright. The proper thing to do at times like this is humble ourselves and pray that God will work in such a way to turn the society from their sinful thinking - and turn them instead to the Word of God. What is truly sad is that often the striking of the godly is even happening in the church by this point. Thus the first place a return to Godly principles is needed is among God’s people – the church. Only a God-sent, God-empowered revival can rescue such a culture from these kind of things. May God grant us such a gracious move soon!
There is a way which seems
right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 16:25
Ever since the fall of man we've been making the wrong decisions as a race - and - as individuals. The whole world was turned upside down at this event - and man has had his thinking on right and wrong completely ruined. That is what today's proverb deals with - and it is one that we should take very seriously - especially when it comes to spiritual matters - and more than anything, when it comes to salvation.
There is a way that seems right to a man. We truly blew it when we decided to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Ever wonder why this was such a huge blunder. I mean, isn't it a good thing to know the difference between what is good and what is evil? But this is not what entered into the heart of Eve, then Adam when they partook of the fruit of this infamous tree.
They ate of something forbidden by God. In fact, there was only one rule in the garden - just ONE! They were not to eat of the fruit of this one tree. But they chose to eat - and by eating brought the entire creation into futility by their choice to sin against God. We will NEVER be drawn closer to God through disobedience. That is something you can take to the bank every day you live. They were not eating of a tree that would help them know the difference between good and evil. This was not a discernment tree which would help them choose good things the rest of their life. They were wanting to partake of good and evil - they wanted the knowledge of both. The way that seems right to a man is a way that experiences good and evil - and therefore man can choose which he wants. The problem is that once he chooses to DO evil - to ACT evil - to WANT evil - he will be enslaved to it.
There is a way that seems right to a man - which includes knowing evil intimately so he thinks he will be able to choose what is best. But the reality is that the end of this way is the way of death. Jesus said that whoever sins is the slave of sin. We cannot "dabble" in this stuff enough to see the wrong of it - then consistently choose against that wrong. The wrong enslaves - and warps - and lies - and deceives - and in the end, kills.
As we look at this proverb, there is another danger in the "way that seems right to a man." This again proceeds from eating and participating in the knowledge of good and evil. Once the pair had eaten of this fruit - they knew both good and evil. That knowledge made them think that they could reject the evil, choose the good, and become acceptable to God. What was birthed at the foot of this tree was man-made religion. What came to life within the wicked breast of man in that hour was the idea that man can make himself acceptable to God by his works. Do more good than evil - and God will have to accept you. There was a false idea of God that was perpetrated by the devil there - and it was the height of wickedness. Satan said to Eve, that she would not die when she sinned - but that in having the knowledge of good and evil - she would be like God Himself! She herself would then be able to determine what is good as well as what is evil! Birthed in that infamous moment was the lying games of human philosophy as well. The thought that by the working of our own minds we could determine good and evil - as our own little gods!
Since man thought that he could determine what is right and good - there was no need for God. There was no need for the Almighty to grant revelation. We were good enough in ourselves to determine for ourselves what was right and what is wrong. Since that time the heart of man has been a veritable idol-factory. We are experts at fashioning gods of all kinds. Man is hopelessly religious - finding some god that he can worship. Problem is that according to Romans 1
- he finds worship in all the wrong places - looking for god in too many faces. Actually he even looks for God in animals - four-footed creatures - bugs - and in various self-styled versions of himself. Man eventually will have a god of his own making - who will look like, act like, and condone a lifestyle just like the one he is currently living. Anyone who has looked at the pitiful gods of the Greeks and Romans has realized that they were more lecherous and despicable than the men they supposedly ruled over on the earth. We think there is a way that seems right - but it only confirms our previously embraced wickedness and desire for sin.
Hope for mankind lies not in the fashioning of another parthenon of gods, but in communication and mercy from the One True God. There is a way that seems right to man - to each of us - but it is infinitely flawed by sin and selfishness granted to us by our descendants. We are the products of Adam and Eve - and we are after their likeness - and after their sinfulness. Hope comes when we see that God sovereignly reaches down to us and reveals Himself through His Word. There IS a way that is RIGHT - but that way belongs to God and to His revelation of Himself to us through the Scriptures. There is a way that does not lead to death - it leads to life. But that way is through God's provision of life through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. What we need is not our own ideas. We need the life of God - the righteousness of God - and the kindness of God which leads us to repentance. God has made a way - but it is His way. He has made a way - but He did not consult with us as to what it was going to be. When man was embroiled in his sin - in fact before man ever existed or had sinned - God provided a lamb, slain from the foundation of the world. Salvation was - and ever is His idea - His provision - and His act of mercy and grace to us. Oh, that we will remember that - and daily worship Him for His wonderful grace in Jesus Christ.
Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, But a man of understanding walks straight. Proverbs 15:21
All it takes is watching a normal evening of television to know that folly and fools are exalted in our entertainment. We see them every evening, ignoring the warnings of God's Word. Yet night by night we also sit and watch them and laugh at their antics. We laugh even though there are times when the direction of the program and its heros is absolutely contrary to Scripture. What happens in a nation when this is the case?
Ours used to be a culture that confirmed our values in our entertainment. Shows like, "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Andy Griffith Show" tended to confirm our values and beliefs about righteousness and godliness. They did not proclaim Christ, but they at least held to a certain standard on what was right and wrong. Then something started to happen in the 60's. Those in the entertainment industry abandoned godly values and things like strong families and morals. We exalted the anti-hero and began to plumb the depths of the depravity of man and call it entertainment. Then shows like "All in the Family" arose which allowed only hypocrites to be those who spoke of what had been known as family values. From there things continued to descend into the pit - as sexuality became a consistent theme. Now just about any and every vice is portrayed for us in dramas and sitcoms - and often they are extolled as main characters hold to these sins. All the while our culture sits and laughs and finds a false joy in all these parading fools and their folly.
When we read this proverb it might be easy to think that it refers to others, but I fear that it comes much closer to home. The devil has used this medium well to give us ample opportunity to sit and actually mock our own values. This is why it is so dangerous to have unfiltered viewing habits as to television and movies.
We read of another kind of person in this passage though. He is a man of understanding. This word speaks of someone who sees as he ought to see. He grasps the Word of God - understands it and grasps what it teaches. As a result he does not get off the path that God has for him - and indeed for all who desire to know and love Him. He walks straight - and does not turn his eyes or gaze to the right or to the left. He fixes his eyes on the goal - which is conformity to the character and the way of Jesus Christ. Even though the world may seek to get his attention and turn it from the Lord Jesus Christ - he does not listen. He deafens his ears to the siren call of the world which will only land a man on the rocks of destruction in the end. He has tuned his ears to hearing the voice of God. He has learned to be a sheep who hears the Great Shepherd - and follow Him. Wise indeed is the man who sets his heart and mind in this way.
Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34
Today we look at how a nation is blessed or disgraced. According to our proverb righteousness or doing what is right exalts a nation. Therefore, if we want to be exalted and blessed, we must choose consistently what is right. But our nation faces a serious problem when it comes to this proverb. We no longer believe in a right and a wrong. Having bought the post-modern mindset hook, line, and sinker, we now believe that there is nothing more to believe in except what we want to believe in. Truth is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore we no longer hold to an absolute right and wrong. We no longer have a moral code that governs the hearts of men.
Our courts have decided that what is truly dangerous in our nation is to publicly display the 10 commandments so that school children can see them and read them. Never mind that one of the writers of our Constitution said that we have placed our hope in our ability to obey these Laws of God. Never mind that though we openly persecute the Christian moral code, we openly teach other religions in our classrooms under the guise of multiculturalism. It is dangerous to tell children not to murder, not to steal, not to lie or commit adultery. Thus we have our current modern dilemma. A society that decries the lack of civility as new acts of violence shock us worse that the previous ones that maudelinly decorated our newpapers and newcasts just weeks earlier. We wonder why kids would go into schools and wantonly kill each other. We are shocked at the debauchery of the generation that is coming up - astonished at their lack of conscience as they commit crimes with an ever-increasing display of horror.
We don't get it. Righteousness exalts a nation! We must return to an absolute truth that lays down absolute morals by which we are to live. What is astounding to me though is that such a righteousness will degenerate in one generation if all we rely upon is the rule of law to do it. We are incapable of righteousness in our own strength. Righteousness will only come by grace through faith. It comes to us as we turn from our own sinful and selfish ways and turn to Jesus Christ - the One Who came to die for our sins. It comes to us only as God's grace reaches out to us and grants us life. Thus we find that the righteousness that will exalt our nation will only come with a return to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then we are saved - we are redeemed - we are regenerated so that we desire to do God's will. Without the gospel law will break down into moralistic teachings taught by hypocrites who do not even do the things they teach others. The sad reality though is that we as a nation have legislated the gospel out of our society.
There is a false teaching that exists in the legislative world called the separation of church and state. This supposed wall exists in the interpretation that some pseudo-scholars have invented about the First Ammendment to the Constitution. That ammendment was put there to keep the state out of the churches' buisness. It was put there so that we would not have a state run church. Unfortunately it has been misinterpretted to mean that any open expression of Christianity within any state run or funded activity is prohibited. Thus our legislators have inadvertently chosen a state religion for all of us. It is the lack of God in our nation - at least the God of the Bible. So . . . our national religion is now either atheism and its more ignoranty companion, agnosticism - or it is any other religion than Christianity. What our founders sought to protect has been used in such a way as to openly persecute and wantonly disintegrate the faith that most of them held when they wrote it.
It should not shock us that we are a nation that has shunned righteousness. The churches did not hold fast the truth and spread the gospel. The corresponding lack of believers in the land, or worse, the proliferation of false believers who misuse and abuse the Scriptures, has led to a dearth of them in office. The lack of a Christian presence among the governing elite of our land has lead to a lack of respect for our founders' faith. Thus we have become a people who more and more legislate sin as the new righteousness of our land. We have decided to say that it is open season on unwanted babies and call it abortion - or a woman's right to choose. We have decided to destroy the black community and the poor by saying that we will allow a welfare state that rewards sexual promiscuity and having babies out of wedlock. We also have decided that work is no longer a sacred duty - but act like it is mercy to provide a living without requiring labor. We no longer call heterosexual immorality what God calls it - fornication - but feel that sleeping together or living together is a more genteel way of designating it. Rather than encourage faithfulness in marriage, we have advocated easy divorce and speak of blended families rather than broken ones. We have decided that homosexuality is not an abomination - no! - it is an alternate lifestyle. It even needs to be taught to the youngest of our children as a wonderful alternative to the straight people who are so hateful as to hold a biblical viewpoint. Our banks and businesses fail because we have reared a generation of crooks who no longer think that, "Thou shalt not steal" applies to them. Scandal after scandal rocks our statehouses and churchhouses as the concept of integrity in leadership fades as a mere memory of the past.
Does all this kind of shock and depress you? It should because sin is a disgrace to any people. To live like we have lived is to be disgraceful. To reject the living God for the idols of our current generation is an act of foolishness. It is foolish becuse we have rejected the Fountain of Living Waters to hew cisterns, broken ones, that can hold no water. Even history mocks our choices as we ignore the civilizations that have fallen before us. We turn a blind eye to the same sins that portended their demise and characterized the rot from within that toppled them.
We need to turn to God in prayer - humbling ourselves, praying, seeking His face, and turning from our wicked ways. We need a national revival first in our churches. They need to return to the faith of our fathers - seeing Christianity as the truth - and Jesus as the only way of salvation from a selfish and self-gratifying lifestyle. Even more than this we must remember that we will stand in God's judgment - which has already begun. We need to fear God which is the beginning of wisdom for us - and for our nation. Then we need a nation-shaking spiritual awakening that sees millions come to Christ. If we do not see such a thing - we are doomed to the ash heap of societies. Written over us in the end will be the same words written over Babylon - "Mene, Mene, Teckel, Upharsin." America has been weighed in the scales and found wanting. We will fall to another rising power with another statement written as our postscript. "Here lies the United States of America in ruins for she turned from righteousness and chose sin . . . which is a disgrace for any people."