Who Has Your Ear?
By Josh Petras on January 2, 2023
Who Has Your Ear?
By Josh Petras on January 2, 2023
Amen. Well, Happy New Year, everyone. What a way to end 2022! We get to spend some time looking at God's word and singing praise to our Savior. This is the New Year's party right here. This is where it's happening tonight. So, you guys are in the right spot. Hey, if you have your Bibles, let's go ahead and go to Proverbs chapter nine. Proverbs chapter 9 is where we'll spend our time this evening. And I want to begin with the question, where do you find wisdom? Where do you find wisdom? I know that some of you in this room, in this coffee crazed world, are tea drinkers. You are more tea people, and you don't like just any old tea; you enjoy luxury tea, you like to go to that famous store, Target, also known as Tarjay around my house, and like me, you enjoy the Yogi brand of tea right there. Just a good ginger tea or something else at the end of the night. And with every cup of tea, at least with the tea I drink, and I think a lot of companies do this, there's this little tag on it that always has wisdom. And so, I thought this week I would collect some of the wisdom I found from my evening cups of tea, and here's what I found. You'll see if it's helpful. This one said your inner self is your inner guide. Whoa, is ripping off Jiminy Cricket right there. So come on, Mr. Yogi figure it out. Here's another one. Breathe in peace, and breathe out blessings to all, which is a really fancy way of saying absolutely nothing. Another one, uncage your heart, free your heart. Let it be wild, said by someone who's clearly never parented. But so, when it comes to wisdom, the Yogi brand is less than helpful.
Where do we find wisdom? I wonder if you were to ask people where they would find wisdom, whether it's from their tea, I doubt it, or from Barnes and Noble, or from the Google machine, or from Oprah, wherever it is that you think you can find wisdom tonight. We need to find wisdom in Proverbs chapter 9. When I knew I was going to be preaching the New Year's Eve and New Year's Day sermons, my first thought was for 2023, whatever our goal is, we need wisdom. And whatever sort of resolutions or plans you have for the next year, whether they be fitness plans, or diet plans or financial plans, whatever they are, whatever changes you want to make, what we most need is wisdom. And Proverbs is a book about wisdom. See, back in First Kings, chapter three, the newly crowned King Solomon got an amazing opportunity. He was told by God, tell me what you want, ask of me what you want. And Solomon asked for wisdom. And God gave him wisdom. He gave him a lot more than that. But here, in the book of Proverbs, we see some of Solomon's wisdom put on display. He asked for discretion for discernment, for insight on how this world works so that he might rule and live righteously. And that's what the book of Proverbs gives us. We see Solomon's wisdom recorded. And as you read this book, what you find is wisdom is not so much about knowledge accumulation. It's not about just gaining more facts, nor is wisdom about philosophical insight. No, wisdom is more of a street-level thing. It's much more practical than that. Wisdom, at least what you find in Proverbs, insight, discretion, discernment, is figuring out how life works. It's figuring out how to navigate this world. It's skillful living. It's the competency in the midst of so much chaos and so many strange situations, to make a good and righteous decision. It's to live well. It's a sort of holy shrewdness that allows us to live in a way that honors the Lord. And what we find here is this wisdom, packaged in the Proverbs. These proverbs do not always give exact principles, life always turns out this way, but generally, Proverbs explains to us how the world works. It's wisdom from the God that made the world to us about how the world operates. And in a way, that's very much the same way our proverbs work. If you think of American proverbs. They're the same way. Think about the expression, look before you leap. Okay, look before you leave. That expression doesn't tell you what to look for. It doesn't tell you when you might not leap. It's just a good principle that fits in your pocket. Well, look before you leap, and in fact, I have up on the screen… this isn't getting into our text yet, but here's just a few of the proverbs just so you could see how they work. Proverbs 23:4-5. I have it up on the screen here. Proverbs 23:4-5 says, “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.” What's that telling you? So, in your life, as you work to gain money for righteous purposes, remember, money flies away quickly. It's just how the world works. There are other proverbs that talk about wealth hastily gained. So just be mindful of that, as you use your money for God's purposes. Don't toil to make it your main priority because it flies quickly. Here's another one. I like this one. Proverbs 18:6 says, A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” Selah. Happy New Year, everyone. Right? That's just a good thing to remember. If sometimes, if you talk a lot, it's going to get you in trouble. Here's another word in Proverbs 27:14. “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as a cursing.” There you go. Proverbs about greeting people too eagerly, too early. There are all sorts of other problems about the mouth, about purity, about work. These proverbs explain to us how to live well. Here's what wisdom is, I'll repeat it twice. Wisdom. The wisdom we find in Proverbs is the art of navigating life in a way that honors God and blesses others. It's the art of navigating life in a way that honors the Lord and blesses others. So, in my work, in my parenting, with my finances, as I use this thing in front of my face, how do I do all of this in a way that honors the Lord and that is a blessing to others? And the Proverbs provide many what I would call fatherly insights. I mean, how good it is, we see that the proverbs are Solomon writing to his son. And yet, I think for us, we can understand this as our Heavenly Father, not only telling us to live righteously for him, by giving us insight on how to do that. That's what's so helpful about this. Again, it gives us so much wisdom. And I'd encourage you to read the Proverbs regularly if you don't. Tonight, we need to ask, are you living wisely this year? Have you lived with wisdom? Is your life marked by discernment, or lack of discretion?
Bible says, everyone is in one of two categories, either you're wise or you're a fool. And we'll see that reality in our passage this evening. So, if you haven't done so already, let's turn to Proverbs chapter nine. Proverbs chapter 9. Of all the 31 chapters of Proverbs. We're going to just look at one chapter tonight to help us think about wisdom rightly. And if you would, once you're there, if you would, please stand for the reading of God's word. This is the word of the Lord given to us. Help us understand how to live wisely. Let's read it together. Proverbs 9, starting in verse 1. The Word of God reads,
“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town, ‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ To him who lacks sense she says, ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.’ Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it. The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, ‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ And to him who lacks sense she says, ‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’ But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.”
Heavenly Father, we thank you for Your Word. And as we wrap up this new year, we pray that you would help us to see your truth clearly tonight. Help us to walk in wisdom. Thank you that you are a good father who does not hide wisdom from your children, but wisdom calls out and is offered freely. Pray you use your word to instruct us in your ways tonight. pray these things in your Son's name. Amen. You may be seated.
Are you wise? Or are you a fool? Are you wise? Or are you a fool? That's the question of this proverb, it's the question it's asking. And it's asking this question, with a heightened sense of urgency. And we know that because it's in Proverbs chapter 9. Let me explain. If you look at the end of chapter 9, and you look at chapter 10, the very first verse in chapter 10, says, The Proverbs of Solomon. And the reason it says that is because chapter 10 is the beginning of a new section. So sometimes when we think of the proverbs we think of individual sayings, or a few sayings gathered together, almost like fortune cookies, but biblically inspired fortune cookies, and that is really what Proverbs 10 through 29 is, it's sayings of Solomon, from his wisdom, but chapters 1 through 9 are longer discourses; they're longer sections that will focus on things like acquiring wisdom, the benefits of wisdom, the danger of sexual sin, the danger of spending time with the wrong crowd. So, chapters 1 through 9 is almost a sort of gateway into the rest of the proverbs. And what you find in Chapter 9 is Solomon's last plea to listen to wisdom. So that's where we're at. We're sort of in the middle of a story that's in progress. He's explaining wisdom, the benefits of wisdom, the dangers of walking in foolish sin. And now here, he's saying is one more time, wisdom is calling out to you. And so, this passage with intensity, like a father talking to his son, very close to saying, you need to walk in wisdom, not folly? And wants to help us understand this passage? Are we wise? Or are we fools? This passage lays out really simple. I mean, you can understand it through almost through a first reading, we have Wisdom crying out in verses 1-6, we have Folly crying out in verses 13-18. And right in the middle of verses 7-12, is this passage that compares the fruits of listening to either voice. The here's the reality tonight. You can only listen to one of these voices. Every day, these voices cry out to you. And you're only listening to one of them. And so, in a sense, this passage functions as a sort of spiritual GPS. I know some of you are Apple Maps people. Some of you are Google Maps people. Some of you are Wazers. Third Wave, let's go. And all of this passage does the same thing. All those things do. It helps you sort of figure out where you are, helps you see there's two roads that exist; helps you figure out which road you're on, and helps you figure out where these roads lead to. And so, let Solomon help you tonight or let someone help you answer this question? Am I living wisely? Or am I living foolishly? My hope is that this passage will help us live wisely in our work and our parenting and our relationship with the world with each other here, that we might walk in wisdom.
Simple layout point number one on your handout, I want you to see two voices, two voices. There are two voices that are calling out; two invitations that are extended to all. We have the lady wisdom, and we have the woman folly. And really these two women illustrate two different ways to live, two different paths that you can choose; you must choose them exclusively one and not the other. And the question tonight is our title of our sermon says, “Who Has Your Ear?” Which one of these women are you listening to? The first is wisdom. The first is Lady wisdom. Solomon has been exhorting his son to get wisdom, and here we have lady wisdom is the wisdom of God personified. She was back in Proverbs chapter 4:7, where Solomon said this. The beginning of wisdom is this. Get wisdom. Acquire wisdom, wisdom starts with you saying you need to go get wisdom with all you're acquiring, get understanding. And here you have wisdom, inviting the masses saying, come, partake of what I have, partake of the goodness of what I have to offer. It says in Proverbs 9:1 that her house is strong. She has built her house. It's constructed and she's hewn her seven pillars. Now there are all sorts of commentaries you could read, like, what are these pillars? Or what do they represent? What do we do with this? It's an illustration, the picture of this. It's secure. It's a credible offer. Wisdom is not trying to hoodwink you; it's not trying to sell you something that she can't actually sell. There's something spacious and good and secure. A house with seven pillars is not only a credible house, and no false advertising here, but a house with seven pillars is spacious, which means it could fit not just a few but many. This is not a limited supply offer. This is any who want to come and get wisdom in this world, it's available to you. You can understand how this world works, and how to live well in this life, how to navigate it skillfully. A good offer is being made in an offer that is satisfying that fulfills and verse 2, “She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her young women to call, it's from her it's her own possessions. It's a credible offer. It's an offer that she can actually make. And it's an offer that truly satisfies. The picture is of a banquet. Those who are famous, you can come and eat here, that what is being promised is legitimate. And what is being promised is good. This is always how God's offers work, right? What the Lord offers to us, what the Lord offers to all people, it will always satisfy, is always enough, and is always free. Listen, Isaiah 55:1-2 says, “Everyone who thirsts come to the waters, and you who have no money come by and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money without costs.” Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is good and delight yourself in abundance as it you want to live the good life of the life that God graciously gives to his children who walk in his ways. Wisdom is available, it's not running out, there's not a shortage, go get it now.
The invitation that we see goes to all people. That's why in verse 3, he calls out from the highest places, verse 4, “Whoever is simple,” this is not a bashful or a begrudging or a selective invitation. You can know the wisdom of God tonight, and you can walk in his wise ways. And the invitation is to come verse 4, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! To him who lacks sense, come eat of my bread, drink of the wine that I have mixed.” Who is this invitation for? It says, the simple. Some of your translations might say, the naïve. What does that mean? Is this just about the dumb? What is this talking about? Well, the word here the idea is being open-minded. But not the way we use open-minded like we use it in a positive way. Like yeah, I want to try to be open-minded about this. No, no, this is like your mind is open for anything to hop in there. You're spacious, readily ready to take in any idea? Any worldview, any sort of outlook on life, the naive person is like, hey, whatever people pitch my way. I'm just ready to take it in. And well, wisdom is saying like, hey, if you lack sense, if you don't know what to do, let me give you real wisdom. Whoever is simple, let them turn in here. This is the helping the person who is gullible, the person who doesn't know how to discern between right or wrong. wisdom says, let me help you with that. Let me help you figure out which way to go in life. Proverbs 14:15. I think this one you have on your handout. Proverbs 14:15 says, “The simple believes everything.” The simple person is ready for any idea, any view on marriage and if you want relationships, and if you want the purpose of life, any view on what's important. The simple is easily persuaded, but the prudent, the wise, gives thought to his steps. Here wisdom is offered. So, this is a mercy right to the naïve. To the naïve, wisdom says, come, you can get wisdom. You can know how to live. Some of you are in that spot tonight. You're either open-minded that you change your opinion based on who's the loudest opinion in your life. Or maybe you've come here tonight. Maybe you've come with family knowing I don't really have life figured out. I need some better direction. Because the way I've been living hasn't really been working for me. Wisdom is offered to you. Verse 6, look at its call, “Leave your simple ways, and live, walk in the way of insight.” wisdom says, come, learn to live well in this world from the God who made this world. But as we said, there are two voices. There is a second voice. Verse 13, “The woman Folly is loud,” foolishness roars, the voice of Folly is boisterous and obnoxious and disturbing and interruptive and consistently loud. This is the way the world thinks. And this is the voice of lacking reason that we find. This is foolishness on display. It says there that “she is seductive and knows nothing.” The other word there, seductive, probably should be translated differently. It's actually the same word for simple. It's a more of intense form of it. Some of you have a footnote will say full of simpleness. So, here's the thing about Folly. Folly has the same problem that the fool has, as she doesn't understand how the world works. She lacks wisdom. And yet what foolishness lacks in real knowledge, it tries to compensate for with volume. If I say this loud enough, and if I if I say it often enough, then even though it's totally ridiculous thinking that maybe we should all buy into it. That's the way foolish thinking works. It promotes itself even though it has nothing real to offer. The voice of Folly is uninformed, just like those she calls to. But that doesn't mean that her calling is any less. You see the comparison here. She also makes an invitation. “She sits at the door of her house;” verse 14, “she takes a seat on the highest places of the town.” She also calls to those who pass by. In fact, verse 16, look, it's the exact same invitation, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” So you have wisdom saying, if you're not sure how to think, let me give you wisdom. This is how you want to think, this is how you want to live in the world, and foolishness, with just as loud if not a louder megaphone is saying, this is how you live. Let me show you who lack understanding the right way to go. But notice her call it says what verse 15, “Calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way.”
Notice, folly doesn't call out to those who are already living foolishly. The voice of unreason cries out to those who are going straight on their way, to those who are trying to live righteously are being bombarded with advertisements to come and walk in foolishness. And what are their advertisements? Well, you've heard the expression before, all sizzle, no steak. There's nothing good to offer here. But there's a lot of sizzle and Folly’s salesmanship says in verse 17, “Stolen water is sweet.” Hey, look, that might be the right way to go, but this way is better. There might be more clear directions that way. But this is tastier. It's more delicious. It'll engage your senses all the more. Stolen water is sweet water, and bread eaten in secret, that's the good kind of bread. So, folly advertises itself. Here you see a voice contending with wisdom. It's the voice of foolishness. But we need to understand the right way that the Bible talks about the fool. We think of foolishness as like, dumb, you fool. That's not the biblical idea of foolishness. The foolishness here is the foolishness that rejects God. Psalm 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” The Fool is the one who sees the way that God calls us to live and goes after me. I'm going this way instead. That's Biblical foolishness. That's this call. This isn't a call just to live stupid. It's a call to live anti-God, to live against the way that he has called us to live in his Word and in his Son. Don't listen to God's wisdom. You're smarter than that. You could live like this. That's how we're sold. So, this is good advertising. Folly doesn't describe herself as folly. I'm here for the simple, then it's advertised as sweet.
Now who is this woman folly? Again, this is Chapter 9 of Proverbs. So this is really a summary of all the foolishness that Solomon has been talking about in Chapters 1 through 8. This is the way that the seductive woman speaks that proverbs 5 says, “Why would you drink water from your own cistern? Right talking about sexual purity, being for marriage, not a foreign woman, not someone else. Stolen bread is a theme in Proverbs of taking and enjoying what is not yours. But again, this is false advertising. Did you notice that lady wisdom it says, offers wine. She says, thrive and drink of the wine I have mixed. Verse 17, folly offers stolen water, not as elegant of a drink, not as special because folly offers that which it cannot really give, which is satisfaction. Proverbs 20:17 says, “This bread, gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.” She's saying come and be satisfied, but it won't satisfy. Yet she is still loud.
These are the two voices that we find in Proverbs 9. And, friend, every day, wisdom cries out to you, and folly cries out to you. These are the two voices that are calling out to us even today. My question is, who has your ear? Which voice are you listening to? Consider the ways that wisdom, that is that skillful way of understanding who God is and navigating this life for him. Consider the way wisdom calls out to you. Even in creation, I have this one on the screen for us. Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” When we live here in Huntington Beach, we go down to the ocean, we see sunsets, it is obvious that there is a Creator, that my life is temporal, that I am not the center of this universe, even creation offers us witness wisdom. Psalm 91 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God all around us.” We say there must be some maker that this life is about that made this world. We see wisdom in creation. We also see wisdom in God's Word. That's the place where you're most going to find wisdom. Every day, as you read your Bible, what you're finding is wisdom. An understanding of how the world works and how you ought to live. Listen to Psalm 19:7, it says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” So, yes, the Bible is not going to give you insight on how to pass your calculus class. And the Bible isn't going to give you any sort of social political history of the last century or anything like that. But the Bible is going to help you understand how to live life right. And how to do it well, it offers wisdom to those who are simple. You have on your handout right here, that we find wisdom in the person of Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:2-3 says, “Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” That by looking at Jesus and understanding who Christ is, we understand better who we are, and how we ought to live. There's wisdom. In fact, James 1 says, “Whoever lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives it freely.” God gives wisdom to those who ask, see, living wisely in light of God's righteous reign. But wisdom is not that far from you. It's easily within grasp, and it's calling out for you to seek wisdom every single day. But you also know foolishness cries out every day. Every day lady Folly is crying out and she's calling out to you. Every day foolishness calls out to us. If we look at the world, we see this invitation to think in an ungodly way over and over again. Do you see it? Do you hear how loud it is? Now, when I talk about foolishness, I'm not talking about silly things like Tik Tok dances or video games or texting and driving or anything like that. I'm talking about foolish thinking. That’s the thinking that's put forth by the world regularly, thinking about pleasure, thinking about intimacy, thinking about marriage and marriage roles, thinking about wealth, thinking about what should be your priorities of life, you are being sold, whether you notice it or not, a bill of goods every single day. Everywhere we see this voice comes from many sources. I mean, how many of you have that friend at work, or maybe even that family member that lives so ungodly and so wickedly? And notice how loud they are? How braggadocious they are about the pleasure of their weekends, or their attempts at womanizing, or how they live their life. They're not satisfied, and so they just become louder. I mean, think about the worldview messages that are sent through your phone, from the movies and shows you watch, from social media. How we see from politics and political podcasts in the unsaved world, we see so much foolish thinking. It comes also, friends, from our flesh. We have the flesh to contend with that says, well, why don't we live this way today? Here's what foolishness says. It says things like love is love. Who cares what kind of love it is? It's the kind of foolish thinking that says, all sexual sin is fine. Just follow your own desires. The foolish thinking that says you need to try to stay true to yourself. The kind of foolish thinking that says you need to look out for number one. Maybe serve a little bit less the kind of foolish thinking that says not all sin is that bad. Besides I've been pretty good recently, the kind of foolish thinking says that the goal of life is ease and comfort. I need some me-time. In fact, I need to work really hard. So I can get a lot of me-time at the back end of life. Or the kind of foolish thinking that says, don't get mad, get even. They're recognizing they're not recognizing me and they should. The kind of foolish thinking that says just a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands, the kind of foolish thinking that says if I only had blank, I'd be happy. See everywhere this is out there. I mean, even the world what it doesn't do is it has its priorities wrong. I think one of the ways we see that is in social media. Social media constantly causes us to miss-assign value to things. So, for instance, whether you're on the Instagram or Facebook, or you're like punk rock, and you're still on MySpace, and you're scrolling through, and in like 30 seconds, here's a verse Oh, praise God, that's awesome. So and so died. Oh, that's super sad. You know, this bill is getting passed. That's outrageous. Here's a meme that's totally hilarious. Here's the sports team, they got to do better. Here's a trailer. That looks awesome. Okay, not all of those things are of equal importance. But we just trained our minds that this is part of our filling our day. They're like the same thing. So, be careful, friends. Be careful, even if good things hey, look, even your favorite podcast, even if that person shares some of your same political views, might think that x is the most important thing in the world when the scripture say x is not even close to the most important thing of the world. So be careful what voices you're listening to. And be careful how they're instructing you on how to live your life. We need wisdom. Foolishness, that is everywhere, calls from the world. It calls from our flesh. And what's it's called? Verse 17. It's called to indulge, to enjoy stolen water, to enjoy bread eaten in secret. But here's wisdom’s one-verse, or one word motto, here it is. Verse 6, it's Leave. Leave. It's forsake. Another translation might say, leave your simple ways, and live and walk in the way of insight. If you want to be wise. What is wisdom? You need to leave. You need to forsake, you're ready for this. You can't dabble in both wisdom and foolishness. You can't ride the median here. Okay, you can't say I'm going to incorporate a lot of wisdom in my life. Some of you might be thinking this night. So, you might be thinking, you know, I have a lot of good morals and principles. And there's a lot of times where I'm letting wisdom guiding me. So, it makes up for these pockets where I just kind of indulge in those foolish desires I have. That's not what wisdom says to do. That's not what you can do. You can't listen to both. You need to forsake. In fact that word there for leave, to forsake, abandon, it's the same word that's used in Genesis 39. When Joseph is being tempted by Potiphar, his wife and she grabs his coat and says, Lie with me. And he forsakes, ditches his clothes to get away from sin. That's the image there abandoned foolish thinking of any kind and embrace wisdom wholeheartedly. So, wisdom calls you to notice the two roads, the two paths, the two options that are presented before us. Now the question is which of these voices are we listening to?
Which leads us to the second point on your outline number 2, I want us to see two tests, two test. There are two tests in these proverbs that help us sort of pinpoint our location sort of highway marks to help us figure out which road we are on. They're found in verses 7-12. And what I want you to notice tonight is this test is not theological. That is, it's not going to be a quiz on what you know. It's not going to be a quiz on what you think. There's no spiritual exam. In fact, these tests are not even historically based on any sort of decision you've made. One commentator, his name is Derek Kidner. He has an excellent small commentary on Proverbs. It's so good. He says these verses were 7-12. These verses correct the impression that men are saved or lost through an isolated impulsive decision. These verses help you see that whether or not you're listening to wisdom or folly has nothing to do with a one-time decision you made. You know it has to do with your actions. Your actions tell you which voice you're listening to. It doesn't matter if you know that the world is lost in its thinking. If you walk like them, you're listening to folly.
Your actions tell us there's two tests. Here's the first one. This is A and B on your outline for point number two. The first one is this: Teachability. Are you listening to wisdom? You can figure that out by asking are you teachable? Flip back to Proverbs chapter 3. Proverbs 3, I want to look at a verse that's like everyone's favorite Proverbs verse. Everyone loves Proverbs chapter 3. I did a wedding a couple of weeks ago, and I said, what any verses you want me to incorporate? And they said, Proverbs 3, 5 and 6 because we love proverbs 3, right, Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” We love that idea because we want straight paths, right? That sounds good does and so we love and that's a great verse. It's a very helpful verse. So how do I know if I'm trusting Lord of all my heart? Here's where it starts with verse 7. “Be not wise in your own eyes.” Be not wise in your own eyes. Do not think of yourself as someone who has a lot of wisdom. Don't consider or evaluate yourself as someone who's really got life figured out. And so, if you're thinking, okay, I need to not be wise in my own eyes if I'm going to follow the Lord, lean on him and not on my own understanding. What does that look like? Well go back to Proverbs 9, because Proverbs 9 tells us what this looks like. It looks like this, verse 7. “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse. And whoever approves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer or he will hate you. But reprove, correct a wise man and he will love you; give instruction to a wise man, he will be still wiser; and teach your righteous man and he will increase in learning. You want to know how you know if you're on the road of wisdom or the road of folly? You want to know how you can figure out which of these two voices you're listening to? How do you respond when somebody corrects you? How open are you to being reproved? How do you react when someone says you know I noticed this, this weakness? Or this potential sin or just this lack of maturity in your walk with Christ? How do you feel when that happens? When someone comes to warn you, when someone lovingly graciously points out a defect in your character, your attitude or your speech? Because over and over again, the Proverbs say that the fool rejects this counsel staunchly, aggressively, even passive-aggressively, will retaliate against those who tried to correct them with dishonor. Verse 8, he will hate those who correct them. Look at these verses in your outline, Proverbs 15:12 A scoffer. That is a mocker does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the why. There's not just that the fool responds poorly when they're given counsel. The fool does not want counsel. They're not seeking it out because they're foolish. They don't want to be corrected. Look at Proverbs 12. One. Whoever loves discipline, that's correction loves knowledge. But he who hates reproof is stupid. Now, you know it's stupid when the Bible says it's stupid, right? I mean, that's like, biblical stupidity. But, friend, are you stupid? Are you foolish? How do you respond when corrected? Are you broken? Are you teachable? Do you seek ways to improve? Or do you dig in your heels and make excuses and blame? A lack of teachability is foolishness. And I can't tell you how many times I've seen people walk away foolishly from the Lord. And it started with them saying, I don't really need feedback. Yeah, to be honest, at this point, we only go to church for the kids anyway, I'm, I'm good. It's dangerous friend. It's foolish thinking to think we've ever arrived at a spot where we no longer need encouragement, or exploitation, or correction, or different insight. They are teachable. They have a humility that allows them to be corrected. So, friend, are you teachable? Just ask you a few questions to help you to see if you understand that part of being wise, is knowing that you need more wisdom. When you show up here on Sunday mornings, to hear from the sermon, are you here to learn, to gain more insight from God's Word? Or do you just come because while you're supposed to, and you want to grade how good the preacher is doing? If that's you, I hope I'm doing okay. But I would let you know that that's foolish thinking. I have way more mistakes and you've already counted. But anyway. Do you read your Bible regularly? Not just to do it, because I need this book like food? I'm not wise on my own. I need wisdom from the scriptures. What about discipleship? Do you have people personally invested in your life? That can give you feedback without retaliation? Do you invite retaliation? Or sorry in retaliation? Don't invite that? Do you invite feedback? Happy New Year. When was the last time you asked a leader or an elder? Or your fellowship group leader? Or even your spouse? How am I doing? Do you notice anything in me that's off? Do you notice any ways I'm not honoring the Lord? Do you seek that out? Perhaps tonight, some of you are here and you've not joined a fellowship group because you don't want any weaknesses you have exposed so that you don't have to be corrected. That's foolish thinking. By the way, we already know you have weaknesses. The Bible tells us we all have weaknesses. We still need to grow. But are you running from it? Children, students? Are you obeying your parents and do you seek out their counsel? And friends for all of us. When you receive feedback? Do you own it, and you actually try to change Be not wise in your own eyes.
Here's the second test right here. The second test is the fear of the Lord. Second Test is the fear of the Lord. Back in Proverbs 9:10 it says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This quote was first the state in the Proverbs back in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord” is the necessary mindset for the wise person. So, the gateway to wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. But as you walk down the path of wisdom, the fear of the Lord is sort of the guardrails that keep you walking in wisdom. The beginning of wisdom is fear of God, fear him. Now, what is this fear? Because that's an expression that's hard for us to define. What does it mean to fear the Lord? Well, what it's not is sort of fear of the whip. Fear that God is out to get us, that God is the sort of spiritual boogeyman that we just do enough and we can kind of keep them at bay and I got to do enough, for God's going to get me. That's not what it is. Another definition that I have heard is that the fear of the Lord has to do with knowing God rightly. And it definitely does. I mean, the second part of verse 10. There it says, “in knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” So, it certainly is knowledge. But it's, it's more than knowledge. It's more than just correct facts about God. See, it's with your knowledge of God. That as you meditate on it and think on it, that there is a weightiness to God. There's a severity to who he is. It's not just what you know about him. It's how you feel about God, as you consider all of who he is, that you're astonished and gripped, and stunned by God. That's what it means to walk in the fear of the Lord, that you know the truth of who he is, and the weight of who he is that's in your head, is pressing on your heart. And so, you're constrained by the magnitude of who you know God to be. That's what it means to fear the Lord. It's to have a supreme regard for him. There's nothing of higher value. I like the word weightier, nothing weightier in your life. I want you to think about this experientially. So, remember the scene where God rescues the nation of Israel at the Red Sea. God splits the sea. He allows Israel to pass through; the Egyptians chase after and those people who Israel was in bondage to for 400 years and in instant, are drowned. And God's people are rescued, permanently. Take a look up here, Exodus 14:31. Here's what it says. “When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians,” they saw this they saw a God did His power to rescue them his power to defeat their enemy. It says the people took a selfie and boasted about it. The people went, Oh, that's really cool. Know that the people were overwhelmed. They feared God. They feared the Egyptians when they saw them coming. But now there's a greater fear. This is someone that's bigger, and I need to tiptoe with a little more trepidation around them, nNot out of anxiety that we're going to get it too, but fear; this person is much greater than those that were fearing before. Or think about Isaiah 6, right? Isaiah 6. Some of you know this passage, Isaiah sees the Lord on his throne, sees the angels flying around him, the foundations of the throne are shaking, there’s smoke. It's this beautiful view. And Isaiah says, “Woe is me. For I am a man of unclean lips.” Woe is me, for I am lost. He is gripped by what he's seeing that it brings him to his knees. So, it's not just knowledge. It's a knowledge that overwhelms you. It's a sort of balance between all and dread. You're exhilarated and stunned by who God is, terrified by his judgment, astonished by his goodness, and therefore there's nothing that controls, that constrains your life more, than the character of God.
Let's, let's jump to a few passages. Let's go to some places. Let's go to Jeremiah 32. Jeremiah 32. Let's camp again on this, this fear of the Lord. Jeremiah chapter three to one of the things I want us to correct our thinking a little bit on the fear of the Lord is sometimes the fear of the Lord, we think just comes from wrath. So, when we think about God's goodness towards us, we love the Lord. But when we think about God's justice, we fear the Lord. And that's not totally true fear also comes in the midst of blessing. Jeremiah 30, to the very end of the chapter, take a look at verse 38. Jeremiah 32:38. This is God talking about bringing these people back out of exile, bringing them back to Jerusalem, verse 38, “and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, I will give them one heart and one way that they may fear me forever, for their own good, and the good of their children after them.” So, God's plan to say, I'm going to give them a heart that fears me rightly. Well, what's part of the way that God's going to do that? Look at Jeremiah 33:6-9. He says, “Behold, I will bring to it” that's the city he's going to establish… “Behold, I'm going to bring to it health and healing, I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. I will restore the fortunes of Judah,” Southern Kingdom “and the fortunes of Israel, the northern King, all of Israel, and I will rebuild them as they were at first.” Now notice God's goodness here to this rebellious people. Remember, they're in exile because of their rebellion, for saying, “I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. And this city, shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for this city, and they shall fear and tremble. Because of all the good and the prosperity I provide for it.” Notice that that's fear coming from blessing. Look how good God has been to me. It causes me to tremble in fear. There's nothing nonchalant, nothing casual about this. There's the sobriety that comes from blessing. Me, you remember Peter, this is in Luke chapter 5. Peter, the fisherman is done fishing for the day, “Lord, we fished all night.” Jesus says, “cast your net on this side.” And Peter gets the greatest financial boom he's ever gotten. And his response is to fall on his face. say, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
Friend, are you ever gripped like this? Are you gripped by the goodness, by the magnitude of who God is? Or is God just a person that we think accurately about, but he's just really small in our minds? go to Exodus 20. Exodus chapter 20. Part of the reason why we struggle with sin, and particular sins in our life, is not because we overvalue those sins. So that's certainly the case we need to see them as idols, as broken cisterns that can hold no water. But part of the reason is that our view of God when it comes to those sins, is just too small. It's just like a cartoon off to the side. Verse 18, this is after the 10 commandments. This is after Exodus 19, when God has said, I'm going to make you a kingdom of priests, you're going to be my people, I'm going to be your God. Exodus 20:18-21, “Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.’” Here's Moses response, “Moses said to the people, do not fear.” So, notice there's a wrong fear, the kind of fear that causes them to stand at a distance, do not fear, for God has come to test you. That the fear of him may be before you that you may not sin. So, there's a wrong kind of fear that draws us away from God. But there's a right kind of fear that as we press into God, as we read our Word and see how great he is that as we are gripped by the magnitude of God, what's the result? That we say no to sin. Because God is just so much bigger than that sin. And when I'm seeing him rightly, I walk in holiness. Friend, do you need to fear the Lord if you're going to walk in wisdom? If you're not going to live in the foolish thinking that leads the sin? You need to fear the Lord.
I've got I got two more verses for us. We'll go back to Proverbs. Now. Go to Psalm 19. Psalm 19, how do I cultivate this fear of the Lord? How do I develop it? And how do I grow and fearing God? How do I go throughout my day, without God that is just a thing that's in a box that I open up for, you know, 30 minutes in the morning, and then put away the rest of the day? But how do I really allow all of who God is to constrain my actions, to dictate how I live? Well, Psalm 19, that many of you know this, this is a psalm about the scriptures. The second half of it is, Psalm 19 tells us about the Word of the Lord. And you see that you notice many of you are familiar with this poem, Psalm 19:7-9, give all these different descriptions of the words. Verse 7 says the law of the Lord. The second verse says the testament of the Lord, again, these are descriptions of the Scripture, verse 8, the precepts of the Lord, verse 8 again, the commandment of Lord but verse 9, here it is, the fear of the Lord, the fear of the Lord. So, part of the way that I read this book rightly, is not just that I would go, Okay, here's my instructions for the day. But then I would see God more clearly in the Scriptures. And then as I see him rightly, I'd fear him. That who he is would have an impact, not just on what I know, but how I feel about God.
One last verse, Psalm 86. Here's just a good prayer maybe to incorporate into your prayer life. Psalm 86:11, because we don't always feel that God is the most important priority. There are so many things that we fear. What people think of us has an impact on our life. Are we going to have a good day has an impact on our life. When do I get me-time has an impact on my life? But Psalm 86:11 says this, “Teach me your way, oh Lord, that I may walk in your truth, Unite my heart, to fear your name.” Or there are so many other things that I need to be in dread of, or I need to be astounded by, or help them, none of them replace you. Tomorrow morning, maybe that's a great thing to pray as you open your Bible or helped me to focus now how me to block out the other unite my mind, to fear your name. We need to fear God, rightly. We need to see the Word, we need to be in the Word we need to come on Sunday to hear the Word so that we could see again who God is, to hear him rightly.
So, we've looked at two voices we looked at two tests. Finally, let's go back to Proverbs 9, if you're not there now. And I want to look at two results. Two results. Again, if we use the GPS illustration, there's two roads. on those roads, we see some landmarks to help us figure out where we are. Now we need to ask where did these roads lead? Proverbs 9:12 gives us a warning. It says, “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” You need to understand that whether you walk in wisdom or foolishness will have consequences on your life. And you will live with the consequences that you've created for yourself. When I think about this passage, I'm reminded of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Some of you know Christmas Carol, some of you know it, but you don't remember that that's what it's called. It's the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. He's visited by three ghosts, ghosts of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Christmas Future all on one night. Before those all show up. Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by his old business partner, Jacob Marley. Or if you've seen the Muppet One, it's two of them. But anyway, it's just one in the original, is visited by Jacob Marley, his old business partner who warns him of these visitors that are going to come to him tonight. And he is a ghost who had died seven years prior. And Marley in the story is chained and he moves with these chains that rattle as he goes and, and Scrooge is totally disturbed by this. Here's what Dickens writes. Here's how the story goes. Scrooge says, “You are fettered. Tell me why.” Here's the ghost response. He says, “I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link and yard by yard. I girded it on my own freewill. And of my own freewill I wore it. Our actions result in consequences that we will bring upon ourselves.
So which voice are you listening to is incredibly important. What are the results? For wisdom, we see it there, Proverbs 9:6, “Leave your simple ways and live.” Friend, if we walk in wisdom, you will live well, you will live a life that is fulfilled, you will live a life that is joyful. It's not promising you you're going to get all the goodies and all the best things you want in life. But it's promising that you're going to live the right way. You're going to live in a way that honors the Lord and, friends, ultimately, you're going to live forever. Right? You're going to join eternal life with the Savior who has rescued you. And so, the call is the real life comes both real life now a better life now and eternal life after death comes by walking in wisdom after the ways of the Lord. Some of you might need to remember that this new year, because you're being tempted because you're looking at the way the world lives and going man, the way they live for money. Just seems like they're going, things are going better for them. Seems their life is happier by indulging in whatever pleasure that they want to indulge in. It seems like they're doing life better than me. Oh, no friend, you need to, in faith, keep believing wisdom. Keep believing what God has told you; do not fall for it. Keep living the way he's called you to in the workplace. Yes, you've gotten tired, but keep going. Yes, you've sacrificed a lot. But keep running. As we've seen earlier, press on because we've not arrived yet. Ignore that false thinking that says let's put it in second gear now and keep walking in wisdom. walking by faith and not by sight. Live, friend, listen, this is in the Bible. Because even though if you live up according to the voice of folly, the world says you're doing it right. You get God's Word that this is the way to live. I'm assuring you, this is the right way to go. Keep going, as a friend, just keep living in wisdom, live. What are the results of falling? The results of folly. Verse 17, again says this is so enticing, “stolen water,” sweet reading and secret, pleasant. Verse 18, “he does not know that the dead are there, that her guest are in the depths of Sheol.” Foolishness leads to death. In one sense, living foolishly will lead to a sort of living death, a less than perfect life. I mean, you ask any anyone that's ever said, my whole life's going to be about riches, whether or not they're fulfilled. You ask anyone that's ever indulged in just sexual promiscuity how their life is going. In fact, ask the kids of the adulterous parent if they think life's going well for them. Foolishness never goes well in this life. It never ultimately satisfies; it is a banquet in the grave, is the image review that we have here. And not only that, but, Christian, if you live foolishly, it'll cause you to waste your Christian life. Ephesians 5 tells us to walk wisely, making the most of the time. How many of us have wasted hours and hours, living for foolish things. Let's make the most of the time. But, friends, what you need to see more than that is this will lead to eternal death. This will lead to ultimate judgment. Because the fool again is not stupid. The Fool is wicked. The fool has heard the commands of God and say I will not walk in those; I will rebel against God, and the person who walks in foolishness who says my life is about folly, that person is not saved. They do not know the Lord. Listen to some of these Proverbs, I have them up on the screen that talks about the judgment that the fool is heading towards. Proverbs 10:29, “the way of the Lord is a stronghold of the upright, but ruin to the workers of iniquity,” or 11:21, “Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished. But the descendants of the righteous will be the ones who are delivered.” Or 21:15. “The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, it is good news that God is going to right every wrong, but his terror to the workers of iniquity. Friend, if you're a fool, whether in your pride or your lack of any love for God or submission to him in your life, you are heading towards danger. And what you need is more than just well, maybe this year, I should start being a little more wise and I'll clean it up. No, no, turn with me, if you would go to two more verses tonight. Go to Proverbs 20:29. You need to see the danger that you're in. Because you think I will clean it up. I'll just really resolute these resolutions this year and get after it. Proverbs 20:9 says, “Who can say, I have made my heart pure, and I am clean from my sin? Which of you could say I am clean enough?” The answer is no one. None of us can be pure enough in wisdom to be made right with God. Look at Proverbs 17:15 says this, “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous are both like an abomination to the Lord.” Some of you are going well, yeah, I messed up, God will just let me off the hook. That's just not true. God uses it as exceedingly wicked. To let the wicked off to justify the wicked. It's wrong to do that. So, what hope do you have if your heart is impure? Have God declaring you right? See, what you need to do to walk in wisdom. Some of you, tonight is your first step of wisdom needs to be turning to Jesus Christ, as you look at who God is. Recognize that you're lost. Who can say that their heart is pure that they're clean from sin? The answer is Jesus. Jesus never sinned. Jesus, tempted in every way never listened to the voice of folly. Jesus lived the perfect life we were supposed to live. And yet what you find is how does God rescue us? How does God justify the wicked? How does he do that? while he does it by condemning his own Son, who willingly died in our place, the only way that God could justify you is if you have someone take the penalty you are supposed to take. That's what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus took the punishment we were supposed to take so that we wouldn't have to take it. If we turn to him tonight, your biggest problem might not just be foolish decisions. Your biggest problem might be that you're a fool, live like a fool no longer; turn to Jesus, who offers mercy and grace. And if we've seen the goodness of Christ, if we know him, let the goodness and mercy that we've been shown cause us to fear the Lord. And may we as we walk into this new year, do so in wisdom, as we're stunned by his goodness towards us. Let me pray and we'll wrap up.
Father, we are so thankful for your Word. We're thankful for how your scriptures give us clear warning and how we are taught to live. Lord, you are a good father who has rescued us from our sins. You have justified us even though we do not deserve it, Lord, we have no right to be able to claim that our sins are forgiven. And yet, Lord, you have forgiven us in Christ as we've repented of our sins and called out for you to save us. Lord, I pray that anyone here tonight who's entering the new year that they don't know you, that they would turn from their sin and trust in your Son, that this next year might be their best year ever, because they've turned to Jesus and been saved from their sin. Or as your children help us to walk wisely. Help us to listen to your counsel and ignore the voices of folly. Lord, help us to fear you. May we see you as great and glorious, greater than our sins, greater than ourselves, greater than other worldly pursuits, that may we be overwhelmed by your goodness and your majesty. And as a result, Lord, may we walk wisely in your ways. Help us, Lord, by your Spirit to honor you. Pray these things in your Son's name. Amen.
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