Two Paths – Part 1

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths

Before we begin, I need to say that this was not an easy lesson for me to write nor is it an easy lesson to receive.  But please know that it was composed from a heavy heart, with much thought and much prayer.

Throughout our study in Proverbs, we have seen that there are two opposing voices continuously at work in the heart of man: the voice of Wisdom and the voice of the fool.  Each voice will take us down a path; one path leads to joy and life, the other to suffering and destruction. It is our choice which voice and which path we will follow.

In our lesson from Proverbs, Chapters 5 and 7, we are going to look at the journey  and the resulting consequences we can expect from the choice we make.

These chapters deal directly with the sin of adultery.  In 1 Corinthians 6:13-18 Paul writes:

 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!  Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

While all sin is an offence against God, as we can see from Paul’s words, sexual sin is especially destructive to ones own body and soul and to others whose lives are affected by the adulterers sin. Solomon describes the ramifications of such sin in the final verses of Proverbs chapter 6.

He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.  He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.  For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.  He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts.

As we consider the sin of adultery, maybe you’re saying “not me”.  But, the Bible tells us, in pretty strong terms, that there is another type of adultery – spiritual adultery.

Spiritual adultery can take several forms.

The sin of worldliness.  Jesus taught that “no man can serve two masters”. When we measure what’s right by what the world says rather than what God says, or when we compromise what we know to be truth for the sake of being accepted, isn’t that what we’re doing?

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:4-5)

The sin of idolatry.  From His own words we know that God is a jealous God (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God Exodus 34:14)While we may not bow down before little images, we must be careful that we don’t let the things of this life become more important to us than the things of God. 

then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols.  And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. (Ezekiel 6:9)

The sin of lust.  Jesus said: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery ’But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” 

Our enemy, the devil, is cunning.  Peter warns us Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

And James tells us why it is critical to be watchful as he describes just how easily our desires can become the sin of lust.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)

Do you find that when life is going really good you tend to grow distant from God?  It seems that when the “highway of life” is smooth, we get the idea that we can manage just fine on our own. A dear friend gave me a wonderful coffee mug with this quote: “if you only pray when you’re in trouble, you’re in trouble”.  That is so true. When we think we’ve got it all together, that’s when we don’t and it is in those times that we can be most susceptible to temptations.  I love what Paul says in Romans 12:12: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

These chapters are so rich in wisdom that I couldn’t find a way to cover it all in one lesson.  Therefore, we will continue in these same next week.


THIS WEEK:

Have you known someone who was involved in the sin of adultery? (either as the adulterer or the victim of).  List the destructive results you witnessed as a result of that sin.

Review the sins of spiritual adultery discussed in this week’s lesson.  Are there any areas  in your life that you have never considered to be spiritual adultery but now recognize as such?

I made the point that sometimes we are more distant from God when things are going good for us.  Can you remember a time when that was your experience?  If so, try to recall the circumstances and what happened that brought you back into intimacy with God.

 

NEXT WEEK:

Your reading this week will be a little different.  Please read and meditate Proverbs 7 according to the reading plan below.

  • Day 1:  Verses 1-5
  • Day 2:  Verses 6-9
  • Day 3:  Verses 10-20
  • Day 4:  Verses 21-23
  • Day 5:  Verses 24-27

 

img_2246

 

 

WHY PROVERBS?

(1) The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: (2) To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, (3) To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; (4) To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, (5) A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, (6) To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles. (Proverbs 1:1-6)


As we delve into our study of the book of Proverbs, it might be a good idea to pause and reflect on what it is that we are studying.

What is a Proverb? The Oxford dictionary defines it as “a short pithy saying in general use, stating a general truth or piece of advice”.

Strong’s defines it this way : “In some original sense of superiority in mental action; properly a pithy maxim, usually of a metaphorical nature; hence a simile (as an adage, poem, discourse): – byword, like, parable, proverb”.

I like Strong’s definition as it relates to the study of God’s word. It gives the sense that accepting and applying Proverbial instruction will lead to a superior thought pattern, i.e. Godly Wisdom leading to Godly living.

As we examine this week’s passage, we see that Solomon tells us exactly what his purpose is for writing and he gives us the benefits we can expect by following the advice given.

 

The Purpose (Verses 2-4)

To give instruction in wisdom so that one might gain:

    Discernment
    Understanding
  •  
  • If I was asked to point to one thing that I believe is lacking in our Christian circles today, it would be the lack of discernment and consequently, understanding. It is worrisome to me because it is not only lacking in young Christians but also in those who are, or should be mature in their faith.
  • We have at our fingertips so many resources today that I am afraid we have become somewhat lackadaisical in our study. Too often we rely on what some “expert” thinks, rather than taking the time to dig and discover for ourselves. I am not knocking biblical commentary, it is a useful tool for studying God’s word. I use it myself and am thankful for it.
  • Something that I learned early in my Christian walk: let scripture interpret scripture. I am concerned that we rely on commentary without first taking the time to search what God’s word has to say about itself. If we haven’t first studied the scriptures for ourselves, how can we know if the commentary (or any other extra-Biblical writings) we are trusting line up with the true meaning of God’s Word? [Let me say here that this caution also applies to Bible translations. There are some modern so called translations in which the writer has taken great liberty with the scriptures, giving personal interpretation rather than true translation from the original languages].
  • There are many resources for study starting with the cross references in your bible. One of the best resources, I would even say a “must have” is a good concordance. Another great tool is a bible dictionary. You can find all of these resources on line.
  • Another reason many of us are not growing in discernment and understanding is that we don’t seek the instruction of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 says “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words”.

Now we come to the reason that developing discernment and understanding is so important. Solomon says that with discernment and understanding we will receive the instruction needed for wise behavior. In other words, how to live lives of righteousness, justice and equality.

  • Solomon goes on to tell us that discernment and understanding are necessary for discipleship. Look at verse 4. “To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion”. How can we hope to teach and train in what we don’t have? Titus 2 tells us we are obliged to teach those who are younger (either in spiritual maturity or in age) to live wisely. If we aren’t growing ourselves we can hardly be an model to them.
  •  

The Benefit (Verses 5-6)

By studying and accepting the truths of scripture (which is God’s pure and infallible word), and gaining understanding (through the instruction and power of the Holy Spirit), the wise (you and I) can be assured that we will grow in knowledge and wisdom; that we can acquire what Strongs describes as “a sense of superiority in mental action“.


How Did It Go?

In the introduction last week, you were given the steps for the method we will be using throughout this study. In the comments section, please share (only as much as you are comfortable with) how you applied the steps to the assigned passage for this week and/or your overall experience.

  •  
  • Read it – Read the through passage – often.
  • How often did you read the passage?)
  •  
  • Pray/Meditate on it – Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight and understanding, then listen for Him to speak to your spirit. (John 14:16-17, 16:13)

Did you take time to pray before you read the passage asking the Holy Spirit to give you understanding?

  • Examine it – Study resources: Biblical cross references, other trusted translations, bible dictionary, trusted commentary.

Did you look for and mark key words or phrases in the passage? Did you look for parallel (cross reference) verses? Did you use other study resources? If so, what were they.

  • Apply it – Remember there is only ONE interpretation of scripture but there can be numerous applications. Make note of specific ways you can put what you have learned into practice.
  • What are some ways you put what you learned into action?

How can what you learned from the passage translate into your growing in discernment and understanding?


Study Assignment for Next week:

Read Proverbs 1:7

Look up the Hebrew meaning for the following words: *

  • Fear
  • Beginning
  • Knowledge
  • Fool
  • Wisdom
  • Instruction

 

Resources

Bible Hub

E-Sword (this is available as an on-line download or an app)

Bible Study Tools (available on-line and as an app)

If you have a favorite study resource, please share

Bible Study

Last Wednesday I introduced the launch of an online study on Wisdom as taught in the book of Proverbs. In light of so much controversy these days concerning “what is truth?”, I can not imagine a better time for us to begin such a study.

I need your prayers. As we enter this season studying God’s word together and I consider the responsibility of hosting, preparing and leading this study, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the task I feel called to. Yet, Having said all that, please know that I am excited and look forward to our time together.

As you may know, the foundational verse for my ministry is Isaiah 55:11: “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

God said it. I believe it. It’s true.

Until Wednesday. 🙏🏻God bless you and keep you.

🖋Sandra

The Beginning of Knowledge

As I know that many of you have done, I too chose a “life focus word” (my term) for 2020. A “life focus word” is one which is intended to impress upon us a practice that we commit to making an active and deliberate part of our day-to-day life (my definition). The intent is to bring greater awareness to the things we do; the words we use, the decisions we make, the ways we relate to others.

With a lot of thought and prayer, I chose the word “wisdom”. I came to realize that the saying “older and wiser” is not necessarily true, at least not for me. Oh, maybe by the worlds standards it is but those aren’t the standards I want to live by, do you? As you can see from the definition below, secular thinking considers wisdom to be based on experience and knowledge.

According to Collins Dictionary “Wisdom is the ability to use your experience and knowledge in order to make sensible decisions or judgments.”

At 70 plus years I definitely have some life experience and over those years I have acquired a good bit of knowledge. But wise?

With my “life focus word” decided, I realized that I needed to know what (Godly) wisdom means and so I turned to the most famous and accurate book of wisdom – The Bible; more specifically, the book of Proverbs. Early in the year I began to study Proverbs as a key part of my daily devotion time. I am thankful to have learned a bit about wisdom, as God defines it, however I have just scratched the surface. There is so much more to learn.

Before we start digging into Proverbs, let’s fast forward a few thousand years and look at what a New Testament writer had to say about wisdom. His counsel will be a good launching pad for our study.


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

  • We learn from this verse in James that wisdom is a gift from God
  • That it is ours for the asking
  • It is given liberally
  • There are no strings attached
  • God wants us to have it

Over the past couple months I have discovered so much from my study that I felt compelled to invite you to join me on this “wisdom quest journey”. Each week we will take a passage from the book of Proverbs to study using a four-fold method.

  • Read it – Read the through passage – often.
  • Pray/Meditate on it – Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight and understanding, then listen for Him to speak to your spirit. (John 14:16-17, 16:13)
  • Examine it – Study resources: Biblical cross references, other trusted translations, bible dictionary, trusted commentary.
  • Apply it – Remember there is only ONE interpretation of scripture but there can be numerous applications. Make note of specific ways you can put what you have learned into practice.

The first lesson of the study will post on the morning of March 17th, one week from today, and each Tuesday morning thereafter. I look forward to our sharing from this amazing book.

Study Assignment for Next week: Proverbs 1:1-6