The Wisdom of the Prudent

Proverbs 14:2, 5, 25 ESV

“Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord,
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
A faithful witness does not lie,
but a false witness breathes out lies.
A truthful witness saves lives,
but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.”

What does it mean to fear the Lord? It means we honor him with our lives, we submit to his Lordship over our lives, we forsake our sinful practices and we follow him in obedience to his commands, in practice. It means we revere and respect him and we want to do what pleases him. And it means we worship him by giving him our lives as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world.

And if we walk in the fear of the Lord we are going to be people who walk in holiness and righteousness, who practice telling the truth and who do not practice telling lies. Honesty and integrity are hallmarks of the Christian faith and practice, as are faithfulness and trustworthiness. We should be people who live above reproach, not meaning that we are absolutely perfect, but that sin is not what we practice. Righteousness is what we practice.

But not everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ lives by these standards. Many are being taught that they can make a superficial acknowledgment of faith in Christ but then they can go on living in deliberate and habitual sin and still have salvation from sin and the promise of heaven when they die. But that is not what the Scriptures teach. They teach we must die with Christ to sin and live to his righteousness.

Proverbs 14:6-8 ESV

“A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way,
but the folly of fools is deceiving.”

This reminds me of that passage in James 1 where it says that if any of us lacks wisdom we should ask God, but we must ask in faith with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like the wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. That person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, for he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. But the one who asks in faith will be given wisdom generously by God.

What is someone like who is a fool? He is someone who lives by his feelings and who does whatever he feels like doing regardless of what is right or wrong, and regardless of the consequences. The lusts of the flesh are what rule his life and not God and not integrity and not moral purity. He is self-indulgent, and pleasing the flesh is more important to him than anything else. The flesh rules his life and not God and not common sense, either.

We are wise, though, who discern our ways and who take thought to our steps and who are ruled by God’s Spirit and not by the flesh. Even if we stand out as a “sore thumb” in today’s flesh-driven society, and among flesh-driven professers of faith in Christ, we continue in the wisdom of God and not in the wisdom of this sin-sick world. For we love God and we want to obey him and we want to serve him with our lives and to do his will.

Proverbs 14:10-12 ESV

“The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.
The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.”

God, who made us, knows us best of all. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and people who lie to themselves about themselves would do well to listen to the Lord and to let him show them the secrets of their hearts. For many a person who makes a practice of sinning does so because of what is stored away in his heart, and until the sins in the heart are dealt with he will never have victory over the desires of the flesh which rule his life.

But there are also people who are in tune with themselves and with what is in their own hearts, and they know themselves better than anyone else does. And sometimes they will come up against others judging them superficially or by their own selves, or by the traditions of man, or by legalistic requirements, or hypocritically, etc. And that will just add pain and suffering to the pain they are already experiencing. And that is sad.

The Scriptures teach that if we are to come after Christ we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. If we hold on to our lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin) for the sake of the name of Jesus, then we will live with Christ for eternity. Jesus said that not everyone saying to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of heaven but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-11; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Eph 2:8-10]

Proverbs 14:15-16, 22 ESV

“The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.
Do they not go astray who devise evil?
Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Now, the simple are usually the naïve. It doesn’t mean that they lack knowledge or education but that they are easily persuaded by other people. Usually they tend to believe whatever was instilled in them from childhood and on up to adulthood, especially if it was reinforced within the educational system and/or the religious system (institutional religion). They tend to be very trusting people who believe whatever they were taught early on.

I was one of those naïve at one time, but not about everything. I did test what I heard coming from preachers and Bible teachers or whoever was trying to convince me to believe a certain way. I wanted to know the truth, and I wanted to obey the truth, so I would search the Scriptures for the truth and I would test anything that didn’t set right with me against the Scriptures so that I made sure I was following the truth and not lies.

But I was raised at home and at the gatherings of the church and at school to blindly give my allegiance to my government with hand over heart in pledge of fidelity. And so I did as I was taught. And I sang all the patriotic hymns, and I thought our nation was the “good guys” of the world fighting off the “bad guys,” and that the Republicans were “good” but Democrats were “bad,” and I believed the news media and my leaders and I believed that my vote really mattered, etc., until God opened my eyes to the truth.

So, sometimes being naïve doesn’t mean we are not giving thought to our steps but that we had certain truths instilled in us from birth that we just didn’t question. It didn’t cross our minds to question them. It wasn’t a matter of morality for us personally or of choosing between good and evil for our personal lives. But none of us can claim naivety when it comes to choosing between obeying sin or obeying God (see Romans 1:18-32).

So, here is the bottom line. We need to not be people who believe everything we hear, for not everyone tells the truth. In fact, it seems as though most people these days are liars, for many make a practice of telling lies, and so their words can’t be trusted. Only God’s word can be trusted, but even there we need to read it in context praying for Holy Spirit discernment. So we need to believe God, and we need to obey God, and we need to test everything!!

Full Release

An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

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