Tag Archives: Joshua

The Depth of Wickedness in Man

30 Jan

pitYou can check out the podcast here.

Last week, we reaffirmed that we are privileged to play a part in God’s plan for humanity. Whatever that role may be, we’re part of getting accomplished what God wants to accomplish. Our motives should be pure and holy as we seek to fulfill the purpose He has for our lives. Do right in all facets of life because it’s the right thing to do. Be obedient to His leading, but line His leading up with Scripture. We quickly covered a number of principles for daily living that we’ve seen before in Proverbs. We finished last week talking about a contentious woman. If the woman in your life is contentious, show her the unconditional love of Christ. If you’re the contentious woman, allow the power of God to transform your life. This morning, we’ll see the depth of depravity that’s present in the wicked.

Take a look at what Solomon says in Pro. 21:10-19. Where does wickedness come from? I think that’s a good place to start. We need to understand the foundation for wickedness that is present in man. People born into this world don’t need to make a conscious effort to do wrong – it comes naturally. We’re born with the sin nature that is passed from father to son from generation to generation. We saw this a couple of weeks ago when we looked at Rom. 5:19a that told us, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” Remember, “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Rom. 3:10) Sin is the lost person’s master and you have to do what the master says.

Wicked people do wicked things because they have no power to do otherwise. Of course, they can do things that society would call good, but goodness evaluated by a morally bankrupt culture is not the standard. I know that sounds harsh, but we’ve got share the truth of Scripture so people are aware of where they are. Eternity’s too long not to tell the truth. The wickedness is formed in the soul at conception because of Adam’s disobedience. That’s why, “The soul of the wicked desires evil.” Desire can also be translated crave. Evil dominates the thoughts and plans of the wicked. Remember what led to the flood: “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.” (Gen. 6:5) Remember the second greatest commandment Jesus referred to in Matt. 22:36-40? He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The wicked have no favor for their neighbor.

Let’s do some quick review. V. 11 says, “When the scoffer is punished, the naive becomes wise; but when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.” It’s the same principle we saw in 19:25. When people see that others are held accountable for their actions, it will deter bad decisions. That’s one of the reasons the news reports sentencing for high profile crimes. Wise people make themselves available to learn and are willing to receive instruction. This leads into the next verse, “The righteous one considers the house of the wicked, turning the wicked to ruin.” Even though there may be short term gain for wickedness, the righteous wants to avoid the pain and suffering that comes with it. The righteous remember Pro. 12:7 where Solomon said, “The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand.” No amount of prosperity or comfort in this world will turn the righteous from following God. I’m sure this next verse has been used to justify all sorts of pseudo outreach programs. “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.” This is a verse that speaks to mercy, but it can’t stop there. It’s great to feed people who are hungry and clothe people that are naked, but if that’s where you stop, it’s just a good thing to do. The Gospel must be intentionally woven into that work for it to be a work of God. Our primary goal as a church is to make disciples, but if all we do is feed hungry people, we’ve missed the goal established for us by Jesus Himself. This verse speaks to the cry of the poor being ignored. If we ignore the plight of those in poverty, then our cries will not be heard. Remember Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7)

The next verse is not an endorsement to bribery. A gift in secret subdues anger, and a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath.” Gifts are often appropriate, especially when given in private. If you make a big show of giving someone a gift, then the emphasis is on the giver instead of the receiver. If a bribe is offered to subvert justice, that is clearly unbiblical and must be avoided. “The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity.” This make sense, right? If you are righteous, and the only way to be righteous is through the blood of Christ, you want to see justice done. This is the justice dispensed by our government: you want to see right things accomplished and wrong things squashed. So, the next obvious question is, right according to who? We must stick to the unchanging standard of God’s Word. There may be amendments to the U.S. Constitution, but there are none to the Bible.

“A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.” The path of righteousness is a straight and narrow path. Last October, Kari and I were in the mountains of NC and we went hiking. What’s nice about hiking off the Blue Ridge Parkway is the hiking trails are marked. If you get off the marked path, chances are good you’ll get lost. If you stay on the path, you won’t get lost. This is the metaphor Solomon is using. If you get off the path of understanding, you’ll end up with the dead because you will be dead. In Matt. 7:13 Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” There are no alternate paths to righteousness. It is only God’s way through Jesus.

“He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not become rich.” I could spend a whole lot of time here because this is sure a verse for today. The pursuit of pleasure drives many people – even in the church. Solomon is not just talking about pursuing pleasure, but coveting pleasure. Now there’s nothing wrong with having a good time, but if that’s your focus, something’s wrong. If you’re looking for the next fun thing, the next thing to entertain you, the next thing to wow you, Solomon says that you will become poor. Solomon also says, “He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.” At the risk of being labeled old fashioned, I think this loving wine thing is an epidemic in the church. I know I spent a lot of time on 20:1, but Solomon addresses the topic again. Do you look as forward to getting into God’s Word as you do having that glass of wine? The oil in this verse refers to olive oil. This seems a strange addition to the wine. Wine and oil were common at banquets. Overall Solomon is saying if you pursue pleasure and luxury, you’re going to be poor. Turn over to 2 Tim. 3 and we’ll tie up this thought nicely with Paul’s warning to Timothy. Look at vs. 1-5. Avoid here means keep away from. That’s a pretty stern warning.

“The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, and the treacherous is in the place of the upright.” This is a pretty challenging verse that has to do with justice. The same idea occurs in Pro. 11:8 where it says, “The righteous is delivered from trouble, but the wicked takes his place.” The wicked are atonement or payment for the righteous, but don’t confuse that with the atonement of Christ that brings redemption to those that believe. In Exodus 12, the Israelites were told to put blood from a sacrificial lamb on the doorposts and lentils of their houses. The Lord said He was coming and when he saw the blood, He would pass over the house and go to the next. The Jews followed the instructions and were spared at the expense of the Egyptians. In that manner, the Egyptians became a ransom, or payment for the righteous. Righteous and upright don’t mean perfect here, but an overall desire to follow after God.

In Joshua 6, God told Joshua to lead Israel into battle against Jericho where the walls came tumbling down. Israel was instructed to take nothing as spoils from the battle: no gold or silver, bronze or iron – those are holy to the Lord. Following the victory at Jericho, Josh. 7:1 tells us, “The sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel.” Achan’s sin affected the entire nation of Israel. Their next battle occurred against the much weaker Ai where they were soundly defeated causing Joshua to tear his clothes and go into mourning. God told him to get up and told him what had happened to cause Israel to be defeated. God declared that, “Israel has sinned,” and because of that, “Israel cannot stand before their enemies.” (Josh. 7:11ff) God instructs Joshua to cast lots to find the guilty party and the lot eventually falls to Achan. Joshua confronts Achan who says, “When I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.” (Josh. 7:21) Joshua sends people to Achan’s tent and they find the spoils exactly where Achan said it would be. Achan the wicked, was used as a ransom for Israel, the righteous. Achan was stoned to death and then burned. Everyone else in Israel followed God’s instructions – they had a desire to follow after God. I know that was a somewhat lengthy explanation, but sometimes, you really have to work at understanding the meaning of Scripture.

Let’s get one last one in for today. “It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.” This is similar to 21:9 that we looked at last week and Solomon adds vexing here. Vexing means intending to harass and full of disorder or stress. Now, that’s a lovely woman. First, the man is alone on a roof top and now he’s alone in the desert or wilderness. The commonality between the two verses is that it’s better to be alone than deal with an argumentative and unruly wife. I don’t know if that woman from 21:9 found her way to the roof and now the guy has to get away even more or not. It’s better to be exposed to the harshness of the wilderness – the wind, the weather, and the sand than it is to be with that harsh and vexing woman. And before you allow the thought to enter your mind, this is not an endorsement to leave a woman that is constantly arguing and causing stress in your life. The best way to handle a contentious wife is to love her as Christ loved the church.

Another message that covered a lot of ground. We saw where wickedness starts and that’s in the soul of humanity as we are born into sin through one man’s disobedience. Wicked people do wicked things because they don’t know any other way. Righteous people look at pleasing God rather than any short-term gain from wickedness. Don’t shut your ear to the cry of the poor, but make the Gospel an intentional aspect of any acts of mercy you engage in. We looked briefly at gift giving, exercising justice, and staying on the path of righteousness. Don’t love pleasure so much that you forsake God. We looked at the results of Achan’s sin and finished looking at the vexing woman and hopefully we now have a better understanding of the depth of wickedness in man.

Parental Love

13 Oct

Parental LoveYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we looked at some very serious character flaws. A relationship with God through Christ brings true wisdom and as a result, as followers of Christ we should be different than the world. We should have a biblical world view. No matter how imperfect we are, God’s grace is bestowed upon us and because of this, we’re not defined as foolish. This morning, Solomon provides some urgent instructions and reminders that are applicable for parents today.

Take the time to look up and read Proverbs 4:1-9.

Solomon digresses for a moment imploring sons to pay attention. Verses 1-2 give you a sense of urgency in Solomon’s words. Notice that he is talking to sons – plural. Hear is a verb – it’s an action word. This command is reminiscent of the command found in Deut. 6 for parents. Teaching your children is primarily the responsibility of the parents. This is not something that should be outsourced to babysitters, to daycare, or schools and it’s not the responsibility of the grandparents. All of these people can and should help, but as parents, the design is for a father and a mother to raise a child. This is not an indictment against moms that work. I understand all too well how difficult it can be to make ends meet these days. Are there other options available that do not include sending a child to day care at the ripe old age of 6 weeks? Sometime we think there is no other way to make it unless mom works and sometimes that is the case. I knew a woman that worked a part time job that actually cost the family about $20.00 a week for her to work when you factored in fuel and childcare. Solomon tells sons to hear, “The instruction of a father and give attention that you may gain understanding.” The reason for the instructions is clear – to gain understanding. Gain literally translated means to know. This instruction would include day to day things that a father teaches his child. But the more important teaching includes what he would teach that boy about God. It must start at the beginning. Don’t think you can wait until the teenage years to teach your children about God. Don’t leave this important responsibility to others.

Solomon says he gives, “Sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction.” The teaching is right and true and that’s why it shouldn’t be abandoned or left behind. 2 Tim. 3:14 says, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” When you look at Paul’s opening paragraph to his second letter to Timothy, you notice that Paul mentions that Timothy has a sincere faith like that of his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. What is missing is his father and grandfather. Timothy is first mentioned in Acts 16:1 that says, “Paul came also to Derbe and Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.” Notice the contrast between mother and father. This is significant especially in light of what Solomon is telling us.

If you notice in our main text, Solomon gives credit for what he knows to his father. Look at vs. 3-5. As busy as the king must have been, David took the time to teach Solomon. Solomon had 18 brothers and a sister and I would think that the personal level of instruction was important as more children came into the family. But what if the parents are not involved in active instruction? Remember the warrior Joshua? He was one of the twelve men sent by Moses to spy out the Promised Land in Num. 13. Fast forward to the end of Joshua’s life. Jud. 2:10 tells us a horrifying thing: “And there arose a generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work He had done for Israel.” That’s what happens when parents aren’t involved.

Another reminder regarding wisdom. “Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; love her, and she will watch over you.” Don’t take this too lightly. This is conditional, as long as you hold on to her, she’ll guard you. As long as you love her, she’ll watch over you. There’s something obvious in v. 7. “The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom and with your acquiring, get understanding.” The literal translation is, the primary thing is wisdom. Solomon’s thinking if you can get that, the other stuff is easy. Remember we’re talking godly or biblical wisdom here. Those aren’t the only conditions. “Prize her, and she will exalt you.” “She will honor you if you embrace her.”Not only are there eternal rewards, but there are present day rewards too. Verse 9 is rewording 1:9. I like to think of this as a demeanor or attitude. When biblical wisdom is obtained through the knowledge and understanding of the Lord, it should be obvious to those that look at us. Remember it’s the fool that despises wisdom and instruction, but sometimes it seems Christians fall into this category too. We want the promises of God regardless of our actions. We expect God’s blessings when we’re unwilling to follow His principles. We expect a holy and perfect God to turn a blind eye on how we act, what we do, and how we think.

Eph. 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Children are a blessing from the Lord and the best thing you can teach them is to love God. As parents invest in them, but invest the right things into them. Teach them the word of God. If King David took the time with Solomon, shouldn’t we take the time?