He Who Stiffens His Neck

Proverbs 29:1,3 ESV

1He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
3He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

This describes someone who is still living in slavery to sin. Sin controls him, although he does have a choice in the matter. He can tell sin, “No!”, but he doesn’t, or he doesn’t for very long until he goes right back to business as usual. Even though he certainly knows better, and he has often been reproved for his sin, yet he stiffens his neck, and he stubbornly continues to do what he knows is wrong, and what he knows will hurt other people, too.

Although he most certainly knows right from wrong, he chooses to do wrong and to not do right. For he is following the lusts and the passions of the flesh and not wisdom. But he is not a stranger to wisdom. His head is filled with all sorts of knowledge on how to stop sinning and on how to do what is right, but he ignores all that knowledge, and he chooses to do the sin he knows is wrong because that is what he wants above all else.

And he will make all sorts of excuses for why he is still floundering in his sinful addiction and for why he keeps going back to doing what he knows is wrong and for why he refuses to do what he knows is right. And he will justify and he will rationalize his wrong choices because he wants to hold on to his sin and he will not let go. For his sin is the love of his life which he pants over and which he wants to be with more than anyone or anything.

For this is a person who is intoxicated to sin, or to a very specific sin, often times it is sexual sin, which is what verse 3 here indicates. And a prostitute doesn’t have to be a physical person outside of oneself with whom one is having sexual relations. A prostitute can be oneself via self-gratification, or he or she can be someone in a porn video or someone over the telephone or in a text message, or someone in one’s own mind.

Proverbs 29:6,16 ESV

6 An evil man is ensnared in his transgression,
but a righteous man sings and rejoices.
16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases,
but the righteous will look upon their downfall.

If someone is ensnared in his transgression, he is entangled in sin, i.e. he is deeply involved in sin and that sin has a grip on his life. Now, again, it isn’t that he can’t get out of his sin or that there is no way of escape. He can get out, and, in this case, he knows the way of escape, but he chooses to follow his own thinking and reasoning and emotions instead. For I believe the Lord is wanting me to direct this to professing Christians trapped in sin.

This is a person who knows right from wrong and who knows the way of escape and who has lots of head knowledge on what needs to be done to be delivered out of his slavery (addiction) to sin but who is not willing to go the distance and to do what is required for him to be free from his slavery to sin. For he wants it both ways. He wants his sin but he wants salvation from sin, too, and it doesn’t work that way.

So, there is a pattern here that those who are addicted to sin usually follow. There is the temptation to sin, the ignoring of wisdom, and the toying with the temptation, “Should I or shouldn’t I?” There is the battle of the flesh, the following of emotions, the giving in to fleshly desires, and the falling for the “wisdom” of the world instead of following the wisdom of God. And then there is the disregarding of who it will hurt, for this is for selfish pleasure.

Sadly, it is true that the righteous will look upon the downfall of anyone who is enslaved to sin but who refuses godly wisdom and who goes the way of his flesh, instead. And this is nothing to rejoice over. This is something to weep over, to see people headstrong continuing in their sinful addiction while they choose to stiffen their necks and to refuse godly wisdom because the love of their lives is their sin, regardless of who gets hurt in the process.

Proverbs 29:19-20,23 ESV

19 By mere words a servant is not disciplined,
for though he understands, he will not respond.
20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
23 One’s pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

It takes more than words for someone who is addicted to sin to be free from that sin. Many people who are in this condition are not short on knowledge but they are short on obedience. So, it isn’t that they don’t know. They do know. But it is that they refuse to do what they know is right and they choose to do wrong. And I know I am probably repeating myself here, but it bears being repeated. More book knowledge is not going to change the heart of a person who does not want to let go of his sin.

And what comes to mind here when I read about people being hasty with their words is the false promises that those addicted to sin will regularly give out: This time they have it licked. This time is different. This time they really mean it. They are really free this time. Now they finally understand. Now they get it. They didn’t know before, but now they do, and so this time it is going to work. But it is just the same false promises they give out as part of their pattern of addiction to sin. And nothing changes.

And what is at the root of it all? Pride! The person’s pride will not let him surrender his life to Christ and die with Christ to sin and forsake his sins to follow Jesus in obedience. But this is no excuse! There is a way out, and he can take the way out Jesus provided if he chooses to bow the knee to God and to give up his stubborn pride. But added on to that pride is unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness, and hatred towards God and towards other people, especially against those who are living righteously.

And, again, this is and this will be his downfall. And it doesn’t matter if he professes faith in Jesus Christ, for lip service only to God will not get any of us into heaven. For Jesus said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. And many people professing faith in Jesus who are still living in sin are going to hear Jesus say one day, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:44; Jn 8:31-32; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 11:17-24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 2 Tim 2:10-13; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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