Not Every Christian Will Suffer Persecution. Will You?
If you’re alarmed and concerned about how bad the persecution of Christians and the church will get in America in the very near future, you’re showing yourself to be far more astute in understanding the “signs of the time” than most of the professing church today (Matt. 6:33). Why? Because it seems, at least in America, that we have adopted a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” mindset regarding current events and how they may interrupt what we hold most dear: our vacations, our retirement, our free-time, our video games, and our false sense of security in our immature relationship with Christ.
Oh, I’m sorry. Did that last phrase sting a bit? Did it seem somewhat unloving, maybe a little unkind? Good. It shows you’re not completely anesthetized to what is happening all around us. And that’s a good thing. A real good thing.
But to your question: How bad will the persecution really get? Well, that all depends on what kind of Christian you are and what kind of church you attend.
Let me explain.
We Will Not All Be Treated Equally
Not everyone will suffer the same under the coming persecution, just like they didn’t all suffer the same under Nero’s reign of terror during the first century of the church. Nor did all Christians suffer the same under the persecution of the Third Reich. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for example, was martyred for his faith on Monday, April 9, 1945. But just six days later churches all throughout Germany met in their own church buildings unmolested by the Nazis who murdered Bonhoeffer earlier that week.
How could that be? How could one group of professing Believers suffer persecution at the hands of the Nazis yet another group freely worship with the permission and approval of the persecuting State? How is that possible?
More recently, in September 2015, twelve Christian missionaries, including the 12 year old son of a ministry team leader, were crucified and beheaded near Aleppo, Syria for not renouncing their faith and converting to Islam. If they caved into their fears, as some did, and renounced the Jesus they loved, they would be alive today. But since they “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41), they died a horrific death. For those twelve, it was more important to obey God and not man (Acts 5:29) and, in doing so, proved the “world was not worthy” of them (Heb. 11:38).
Again, two groups of Believers. One group renounced Jesus and lived and the other remained faithful to Him and died. Both groups were not treated equally. The severity of their persecution, and ours, is always contingent on one’s commitment to Christ. Throughout the history of the church it has always been that way, and it always will.
Soon, in our own country, we will find pastors and true Believers punished for preaching the whole Word of God, especially the Politically Incorrect passages from Romans 1:26-27 that deal with the sin of homosexuality. You heard right, the sin of homosexuality. Those who refuse to compromise on God’s Word regarding sin, even politically protected and government sanctioned sin, will suffer persecution. They will be fined for their faith in Him Who does not change (Mal. 3:6). Many will lose their positions, their life savings, and even their homes for their unwavering faith. They will be marginalized, vilified, mocked and ridiculed, they will be threatened and sued, they will be charged with a hate crime, arrested, and imprisoned for their faith.
And just like in Bonhoeffer’s day, while some are languishing in prison for preaching truth the culture rejects, others will be leading or attending churches deemed “acceptable” and “tolerant” by the very State that persecutes and imprisoned others in the Body of Christ.
What’s the difference? What separates these two groups of Believers?
Simply this: Desire. A desire to live Godly in Christ – no matter the costs.
Those Who Desire and Those Who Don’t
In 2 Timothy 3:12 the Scriptures state, “All who desire to live Godly in Christ will suffer persecution.” Note the condition and the promise. It’s one of the if/then conditions and promises found in Scripture. If you do this or meet this condition, then this will happen.
An if/then condition and promise means if we do our part, if we meet some sort of condition or requirement the Lord has established, then we have the confidence to know God will fulfill what He has promised to do. We see these all throughout the Scriptures. Remember the one from Romans we so often use when we share our faith with others?
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and (if) you believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, (then) you will be saved (Rom. 10:9).
Now, when it comes to persecution, the Lord gives us another if/then promise. He says, “All who (what) desire to live Godly in Christ will (what) suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). That’s a promise from the Lord. And that same promise is echoed by Jesus when He tells us not to be surprised, “If the world hates you, you know it hated Me before it hated you” and “If they persecute Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:18, 20).
Let’s look at the if/then condition and promise again:
“All who (if you) desire to live Godly in Christ (then you) will suffer persecution.”
The Condition: “All who (or, make it personal, if you) desire (or, will, wish, want, strive, make it your aim) to live (or, have your existence, your mode or manner of life) Godly (or, devoutly, reverently, obediently) in Christ…”
The Promise: “(again, make it personal, then you) will (or, shall, most certainly) suffer persecution (or, distress, trouble, peril).”
As you can see, not all will suffer the same. The defining characteristic of those who will be persecuted and of those who won’t, will be their innate “desire to live Godly in Christ.” This desire, this longing, this passion to live Godly in Christ no matter the costs, come what may, is the hallmark of a committed Christian’s life. They desire to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). To live as a committed Christian, as a real Christian, is to boldly acknowledge Him before “kings and governors” (Matt. 10:18) and to not count our life as worth anything other than following Him and being faithful to what He has called us to do (Acts 20:24). After all, isn’t that why He saved us in the first place?
When the darkness begins to fall and the persecution of the church becomes impossible to ignore, some Believers and churches will have that great desire to “walk as Jesus walked” (1 John 2:6) and renounce the deeds of darkness in obedience to Him (1 Cor. 4:2). And sadly some, in fact most, won’t. Some will suffer for the sake of their Lord knowing “this world is not their home” (Heb. 13:14) and they are simply blessed to be called ambassadors for Him, the One True King (2 Cor. 5:20). Others will love their life in this world: their status, financial security, their ease and comfort, and will renounce their love for Jesus, in either word or deed, and continue to hold on to the lie of “Your Best Life Now.” They will forsake their inheritance as a child of God (Rom. 8:16) for something far less and faithfully continue with the pageantry and charade of the life of a good Christian while the true Christians are rejoicing in the privilege of suffering for the truth, just like their Lord (Acts 5:41).
The stark difference between these two groups will be apparent to all. Actually, it’s apparent now. Can you tell the difference?
So you see, not all so-called Christians will suffer persecution at the hands of the State or by the hatred of our culture. Some will live in ease and comfort, proudly bringing their Bibles to the approved churches, the ones that proclaim the virtue of tolerance for sin and promote a god created in the image of man. But some will not compromise. They will bend their knee to no one but the Lord Jesus (Rom. 14:10). They will render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but they will not, under any circumstances, render unto Caesar what is God’s (Matt. 22:21).
In which group of persecuted do you find yourself? Are you one of those who will be persecuted for the sake of Christ by desiring, above all else, to live for Him? Or are you one of those who will persecute Jesus and His Church by feigning your loyalty to Him with false spirituality and loving your life in this fallen, perverted world more than you love the Lord? Are you the righteous or the hypocrite? Are you one who cries out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 21:19). Or will you, surrounded by an angry, Christ-hating mob, shout through your own apathy and indifference, “Give us Barabbas! We have no king but Caesar!”? (John 18:40, 19:15).
Which will it be? You can’t have it both ways, you know. Persecution has a tendency of forcing those it confronts on either one side or the other. Which side will you be on?
Remember, not everyone will be treated the same because of the name of Christ. Only those who truly are His will be willing to endure suffering and persecution. In fact, true Believers will embrace the honor to show the unbelieving world Who they belong to.
Do you belong to Him? And, if so, how do you know?
That’s the very question we’ll look at tomorrow.
For Part 2: Why is the Church in the Situation it is Today?
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
Today, we look at the word proverb to discover what it means and why Solomon used this form of teaching to communicate God’s wisdom to us.
As we learned yesterday, Solomon wrote over 3,000 proverbs during his lifetime but the Holy Spirit decided to only use the ones found in this book to reveal His unchanging truth to us. It doesn’t mean the other sayings of Solomon aren’t important. It just means they aren’t inspired. They’re not “God breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). They’re simply the sayings of a wise man and not the infallible, inerrant words of our sovereign God.¹
And the wise sayings of Solomon aren’t the only ones the Lord considered inspired. In the Proverbs we find sayings from “Agur the son of Jakeh” and someone known as “King Lemuel” (Prov. 30:1; 31:1), although many feel King Lemuel was another name for King Solomon. That may, or may not be the case, but we’ll look into that matter in more detail at another time.
Suffice it to say, the Book of Proverbs is a collection of… well, proverbs. God-inspired proverbs. And since most of them are from the lips and pen of Solomon, the book is rightly known as the Proverbs of Solomon. But for me, a better title would be: The Proverbs of God Given to Solomon to Give to Us. But that’s just my opinion.
What’s a Proverb?
Which begs the question, “What’s a proverb?” A proverb is defined as a “short, pithy saying in general use stating a truth or piece of advice.”² Biblically speaking, a proverb can be defined as “a short saying that expresses a general truth about God for practical, Godly living.” For us, the Proverbs of Solomon contain the wisdom of God that shows how to live above the sin and degradation of our society and how to understand and fully embrace the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). The Proverbs give clear, practical examples on how to “walk in the Spirit” and not “fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). They teach us how to live everyday as an “overcomer” (1 John 5:5) and reveal to us that the “abundant life” Jesus promised is truly obtainable and not just beyond our grasp (John 10:10). And they present us with a vivid, in-your-face contrast between the painful consequences of choosing the path of the foolish or the wondrous blessings that come with walking in the way of the wise.
But there’s so much more.
Not all the God-inspired proverbs are found in the Book of Proverbs. Other proverbs can be found spread throughout the Old Testament and many are quoted in the New Testament.³
Plus, proverbs or proverbial sayings are not exclusive to the Scriptures. Every culture has their own set of proverbs, their own collection of “homespun wisdom” or “short statements of truth.” See if you recognize any of these sayings from American folklore:
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
A fool and his money are soon parted.
A friend in need is a friend indeed.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
Better safe than sorry.
Great minds think alike.
And in our culture, a common-sense saying like these, often repeated, is considered true.
But this is where the two part company. The difference between a man-made proverb, which may be true, and a God-inspired proverb, which is always true, is that often the man-made proverb contradicts itself. But that’s never the case with the Proverbs of Solomon.
Let me give you a couple of examples of this type of inherent contradiction:
“Opposites attract” and “Birds of a feather flock together.” How can they both be true?
“The early bird gets the worm” and “Haste makes waste.” Again, seems like a contradiction to me.
“Clothes make the man” and “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” If both are true as individual statements, they should also be true when combined. But they’re not.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “Out of sight, out of mind.” Ouch.
Do you get the point? Human proverbs or common, cultural truisms cannot be trusted to be true in all situations. They really can’t be trusted at all. But the proverbs from God, the proverbs found in the Book of Proverbs are, like all Scripture “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). They are God’s Word and absolutely true regardless of man’s evolving mindset or changing moral compass.
But Why Short, Pithy Statements?
And that’s a great question. The simple answer is because each proverb summarized the core nugget of a much larger truth and it does it in a way that’s easy to memorize and later remember. For example, John MacArthur can preach an hour long, 10,000 plus word sermon on pride and we would be hard pressed to remember much of what he said Monday morning. But Solomon can summarize God’s teachings and warnings about pride in just a few, short, easy to remember statements like these:
The promise and warning: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” – Proverbs 16:18.
The warning and the contrast: “When pride comes, then comes shame, but with the humble is wisdom” – Proverbs 11:2.
Another warning and contrast: “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom” – Proverbs 13:10.
And finally, the promise and contrast: “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor” – Proverbs 29:23.
See the difference?
This is why God so effectively employed, through His servant Solomon, the art of speaking proverbs so He could implant in our heart His power-packed, short statements of truth in such a way we could easily remember them and “not sin against Him” (Ps. 119:11). Ask yourself, which is easier to understand and remember? The 10,000 word sermon with all its examples and rabbit trails, or a concise, eleven word lesson on the consequences of pride?
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” – Proverbs 16:18.
Yeah, I’m with you. Give me the eleven words, the catchy song lyric, the “short, pithy statement” anytime.
Nothing Left Unturned
So as we go through the Proverbs of Solomon, remember each of these proverbs contain a condensed summary, or a bullet-point type collection of God’s truth found elsewhere in the Scripture. They’re compact by design. But don’t be misled by their size. They’re incredibly powerful, like the power that comes from the splitting of a single atom.
God has chosen, for our benefit, to pack as much of Himself as possible into the few words that make up each proverb. And if He took the time to specifically choose each and every word, then we will need to spend some time unpacking those words to help us understand the meaning and implication of everything He said.
Why? Because God never wastes a word in the Book of Proverbs. He never wastes anything. After all, He chose the design of the book and the very words He would use, each consonant, vowel, and syllable to communicate His wisdom to us.
So don’t take this study lethargically. Don’t sleepwalk through the next 39 days? Why? Because God is about to rock our world by revealing to us His wisdom from the Proverbs of Solomon.
- Have you ever read the entire Book of Proverbs?
- What was your experience like?
- How long did it take you to complete all thirty-one chapters?
- Did you then, or are you now, reading more than one chapter a day?
- Have you ever considered reading just one chapter each day for a month?
Next Step Challenge
Would you commit, for the next 40 days, to read the first chapter of Proverbs at least five times each day? Would you also commit to reading it out loud?
And would you commit to praying the following each day before reading?
Dear Heavenly Father,
I deeply desire to know You more and to understand You. Would you speak to me today through Your Word and change my life with what You show me? I pray this in the name of Your Son, Jesus, my Lord. Amen.
1. Warren Wiersbe gives us the perfect interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in his book Be Skillful by saying: “All Scripture is profitable in four ways: for doctrine— that’s what’s right; for reproof— that’s what’s not right; for correction— that’s how to get right; and for instruction in righteousness— that’s how to stay right.”
2. The word pithy means “something concise or forcefully expressive” and is a word brought back into popular use primarily by Bill O’Riley.
3. For example, Proverbs 3:11-12 is quoted in Hebrews 12:5-6; Proverbs 3:34 in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5; Proverbs 25:21-11 in Romans 12:20; and Proverbs 26:11 in 2 Peter 2:22. See Wiersbe, W.W. (1996). Be Skillful. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.
The book of Proverbs contains some of the over 3,000 sayings of Solomon, who is known as the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 4:30). Unfortunately, Solomon didn’t always heed his own advice and found his life, family, and testimony shipwrecked in the end. “But how,” you ask? By trusting in political expedience rather than in the Word of God. Solomon thought he could secure the kingdom God had given to him by using human, man-centered, sinful means. He married pagan wives in the hope of forging treaties and trade alliances with Israel’s natural enemies. And the end result was watching Solomon’s love of his Lord slowly slip away as he gave into the pagan demands of his 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3).
Yes, you read that right. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. And just so we’ll be on the same page, a concubine is the same thing as a wife, just not quite as special. A concubine can be defined as: Wife, Second Class. So Solomon had over 1,000 women in his life continually demanding his time and attention. And, as their husband, it was his job to make them happy. Or, at least to try to make them happy.
So how would Solomon, or you or me for that matter, make 1,000 women happy? Simple. You give them what they want.
Now think practically for a moment. If Solomon spent just one evening with each of his wives and concubines, it would take him almost three years to have dinner with them all. And that’s assuming he didn’t have one or two he liked more than the others that he would book for a longer engagement. Plus, the jealousy and infighting among these women for Solomon’s attention and favors must have been fierce, to say the least.
So Solomon foolishly gave into their constant nagging to let them do what they wanted to do, including serving and worshiping the foreign gods they brought with them from home. And in doing so, Solomon let down his guard, forsook his role as the spiritual leader of his home, and let the enemy of God breach the walls of the sanctity of his life. He gave up on the most important duty entrusted to a man: to lead his family in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). “If you want to worship Baal, fine. Just don’t bother me about it. Geez, give me a break. But I had a really nice time with you tonight and I’ll see you again in a couple of years.”
I know what you’re thinking: “How could a man who is supposed to be so wise do something so stupid?” Great question. I’ve often thought the same myself. But I’ve also found myself making the same mistakes Solomon did. Has that ever happened to you?
Think about it, Solomon willingly forgot about the Lord’s warning to each of us regarding light and darkness and being unequally yoked. He confidently ignored the warning that says, “Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33). The bad company was the foreign gods Solomon allowed, not only into his kingdom, but also into his very house. And the good character was Solomon himself. He allowed himself to be corrupted by the evil influences in his life.
And there’s a lesson here for each of us.
Starting Strong, Finishing Weak
But Solomon didn’t start out that way. Somehow this incredibly wise man went off the rails, got sidetracked and bamboozled, and didn’t listen to his own advice. Like many of us he started out strong and committed, with unlimited potential and a bright future, and ended up as the classic example of someone getting everything they could ever want and still not be happy.
But it didn’t begin that way with Solomon. And it usually doesn’t begin that way with us.
When Solomon was given the kingdom by his father David, he immediately recognized how inadequate and how unprepared he was for the job. So what did he do? He asked the Lord for wisdom.
“Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:7-9).
Solomon asked for wisdom and the Lord graciously granted his request and gave him not only more wisdom than anyone has ever had from that time until today, but He also gave him what he didn’t ask for: riches, honor and a long life (1 Kings 3:11-14). All Solomon had to do was live according to God’s wisdom and not by the deceptive human philosophies and carnal teachings of his day (Col. 2:8). And Solomon, like most of us, started out strong and then crashed and burned in a spectacular fashion.
Did you ever wonder why?
Probably because, like us, Solomon learned to trust his own instincts and intuition about life and not rely on the “still small voice” of God speaking wisdom into his heart (1 Kings 19:12). Maybe Solomon felt, after a string of earthly successes, He didn’t need to rely on God as much now as a man as he did when he viewed himself as a boy. Or maybe Solomon craved the approval of his peers more than the approval of His God. Who knows? But whatever internal voice led Solomon to his great fall is the same voice we are listening to today. And be warned, we do this to our own great peril and regret.
Our Book of Practical Wisdom
The Book of Proverbs, especially the first 10 chapters, deal almost exclusively with how to acquire wisdom and why wisdom is so important for each of us. Over the next 40 days we will look deeply into God’s Book of Wisdom to glean all He has to say to us.
And my prayer, for each of us, is to heed and follow the wisdom of God and not rely on our fallen, self-centered, narcissistic, feel-good understanding of the things of God we know nothing about.
Buckle up! It looks like we’re in for quite a ride.
In Colossians 2 we find the church being warned about deception and being led away into error by persuasive and enticing words. The word to them was to be “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith” (Col. 2:7).
But what if we’re not?
What if we’re not rooted and grounded in Him and established in the faith?
What if we’re more concerned about this world and what it thinks of me rather than pleasing Him?
What if we want “My Best Life Now” today?
What if we’re more earth bound than heaven bound?
What happens when we try to satisfy our deepest needs and longings for acceptance, love, belonging, companionship, and purpose in our own flesh and not realize Christ has already satisfied those very needs in His flesh on the cross?
What do we do when we find ourselves in that dire strait?
To find out more about being complete in Christ, keep listening.
The following is a study on Colossians 1:9-10 and Proverbs 1:11-14.
To download the slides for this message, click – HERE
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The Danger of Bad Company
One of the most overlooked and ignored warnings in all of Scripture is found in 1 Corinthians 15:33. Here the Lord tells us to not be deceived. But deceived about what?
1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
But what exactly does “evil company” and “good habits” mean? And what do they have to do with the Proverbs? Great questions. Now let’s find the answers.
First, what it says:
1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived (or, to be lead astray, to wander, to roam aimlessly, to be lead away from the truth and into error and sin, to mislead, to seduce): “Evil (or, bad, worthless, wicked, vicious, malicious, cowardly, destructive) company (or, companionship, communion, conversation, speech, talk) corrupts (or, destroys, spoils, waste away, to utterly decay, to corrupt fully, to deprave) good (or, moral, useful, pleasing, virtuous) habits (or, morals, character, one’s manner of life).”
Then, what it means:
The Lord is warning us not to be easily deceived into thinking His Words and admonitions are meant for someone else, and not for us. Maybe He meant them for someone not quite as spiritual as we are, someone not quite as mature, not quite as smart. Maybe someone weaker, more naive, someone that can’t be trusted to always do the right thing at the right time like we can. Really?
It’s just that kind of thinking that gets us into trouble every time. Wouldn’t you agree?
The first warning is about deception. We are not to be deceived into thinking what God is telling us is either not true, or doesn’t apply in our situation. We are not to be deceived into believing this warning was meant for someone else. Why? Because that’s exactly the rationalization each of us makes regarding God’s Word whenever His Word won’t allow us to do what we want to do and what we think is right. After all, we want to follow our heart, and to our own heart be true. Yet we willingly forget God states our heart is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). So, to have the knowledge of God, our heart would be the last thing we would want to follow.
Yet we still do. Over and over again.
And we never seem to learn.
The second warning is about the essence of the deception. And it’s the lie that we can play with fire and not get burned. We can roll around in the mud with the farm animals and not get dirty. We can live like the world, think like the world, look like the world, value what the world values and crave the world’s love and acceptance and yet remain pure from the world. I mean, how stupid is that?
God tells us there is a one-way path when we associate with evil people. Just one way. And that way is from purity to defilement. From virtue to sin, from light to darkness, from worth and value to corruption and decay. It’s a one way street that leads from holiness to depravity, and not the other way around.
“But I know the Jesus in me will change their hearts if I just spend enough time with them and do the things they are doing.” Don’t be deceived.
“But I love him! And I know if we date or get married he will someday see the Jesus in me and become a Christian. I just know it!” You’re being deceived.
“Hey, they’re my friends. I can hang with them and just not do what they are doing. You know, I can be a light in their darkness.” You’re deceived.
Non-believers never become Believers by osmosis. That takes a sovereign act of God. And you have been warned by the Lord not to be deceived into thinking “good morals or good character will redeem bad company.” In fact, the truth is just the opposite. Don’t be deceived into thinking this warning from God doesn’t apply in your case for whatever reason you conjure up in your mind to justify your disobedience.
It’s just not going to happen. Why? Because God doesn’t lie.
The Addiction to Peer Pressure
We see this scenario graphically played out for us in the life of a young man in the first chapter of Proverbs. It’s peer pressure run amok. It’s the “us” and “we” and “they” and “everyone” against the “you” and “your” and the faithfulness of God’s Word. It’s a classic picture of temptation. And of classic failure.
First, the gracious warning from the father and mother and the blessings of that warning.
Proverbs 1:8 – My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; (why) for they (the instruction and the law) will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.
Again, Proverbs 1:8 – My son, hear (or, listen, obey, proclaim to others) the instruction (or, correction, discipline) of your father, and do not forsake (or, abandon, cast off or away, to leave alone) the law (or, direction, custom, manner of living) of your mother; (why) for they (the instruction and discipline of our father and the law or custom or manner of living or example of your mother) will be a graceful ornament on your head (or, a wreath of grace, a garland), and chains about your neck.
The phrase a “graceful ornament” seems strange to our ears today. I mean, what’s that exactly? It’s a garland, a wreath, a decorative headpiece worn as a sign of approval and honor and is given as a result of following wisdom. In fact, it’s actually awarded by wisdom itself (Prov. 4:9).1
And the “chains about your neck” might give us the mental picture of Mr. T or some rap artist with a wad of bling hanging from his neck. But that’s not what this passage is talking about. It’s a necklace, and is used figuratively of wearing a parent’s instructions around one’s neck as a valued chain of remembrance. 2
In essence, do not forsake what you have been taught. Do not abandon the acceptance and honor you have received by living a life of wisdom. Do not throw it all away for the fleeting approval of the world. Do not become friends with those the Lord commands otherwise. Do not make yourself the very enemy of God. Remember?
James 4:4 – Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity (or, hostility, hatred, enemy) with God? Whoever therefore wants (or, desires, is inclined) to be a friend of the world (what) makes himself an enemy of God.
And who in their right mind would want to make themselves an enemy of God? But that’s exactly what happens when we desire the friendship of the world. Hence, “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Cor. 15:33).
The Quick Slide into Sin and Judgment
Now watch how quickly temptation can come to the young son. And notice how appealing it all sounds. Just like the motto of the Three Musketeers, “All for One and One for All!”
And pay careful attention to the detail in which the father warns his loved, naive, gullible, young son about the ways of the world and the temptations he will face.
Proverbs 1:10 – My son, if (or, when) sinners (or, those reckoned as offenders, those facing condemnation for their actions, those under the wrath and judgment of God) entice (or, deceive, persuade, allure) you, (what) do not consent (or, yield, be willing, acquiescent).
Then there’s the appeal to the flesh. The almost irresistible compulsion for acceptance, power, anticipation, greed, lust, companionship and belonging. All of what is to be found in Christ is used as a temptation to entice the young son away from Christ and into a life of sin.
Have you ever been there? Does any of this sound familiar? Do we not sin to satisfy, in our selfish flesh and in our own ways, the very needs Christ promised to fulfill for us in His own flesh?
Acceptance and Belonging
Proverbs 1:11a – If (or when) they say, “Come with us (acceptance and belonging)…”
Power, Violence and Excitement
Proverbs 1:11b-12 – Let us (acceptance and belonging) lie in wait (excitement) to shed blood (power and violence); let us (acceptance and belonging) lurk secretly (excitement) for the innocent without cause (power and violence); let us (acceptance and belonging) swallow them alive like Sheol (power), and whole, like those who go down to the Pit (power).
Greed, Lust and the Love of Money
Proverbs 1:13 – We (acceptance and belonging) shall find all kinds of precious possessions (greed, lust and the love of money), we (acceptance and belonging) shall fill our houses with spoil (greed, lust and the love of money).
Companionship and Belonging
Proverbs 1:14 – Cast in your lot among us (companionship and belonging), let us (acceptance and belonging) all have one purse (companionship).
The Warning from Our Father
Now the father, our Father, reveals to his son, you and me, the end result of a life lived in the flesh. It’s the natural consequence of being deceived about “evil company” (1 Cor. 15:33). First, he gives the stern warning to not even get close to those under the wrath of God. Don’t even associate with them or walk in the “way with them” he says. Why? Because we are not to be bound or yoked together by friendship or affection with unbelievers. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness” (2 Cor. 6:14).
Proverbs 1:15 – My son, do not walk in the way with them (or, in their manner or course of life, on their journey), keep your foot from (what) their path.
This reminds us of the importance of staying completely free from the contaminating influence of the world, the ungodly, the sinful, and the scornful, and to have as our delight the things of God, even His law and His decrees.
Psalm 1:1-2 – Blessed is the man who (what) walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor (what) stands in the path of sinners, nor (what) sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.
The father now anticipates the pointed questions now hurled at him from his son. They are probably the very same questions he threw in anger at his own father: “Why? Why can’t I spend time with my friends? You don’t even know them. You know nothing about them. You’re trying to control who I hang around with. They’re my friends and you can’t choose my friends for me!”
But the father does know all about his son’s friends and what will inevitably happen to them. And he also knows what will happen to his own young son if he continues down this path in a relationship with them. How? How does he know this? Because he believes the Word of God and the warnings given and he has seen, firsthand, all through his life, the pain and suffering that has come upon those who have gone their own way and shipwrecked their lives running from the truth. He knows. He’s seen. And it breaks his heart to imagine the same happening to his own son.
Proverbs 1:16-18 – For their feet run (or, to run swiftly, quickly, to hurry) to evil (or, what is wicked, malignant, hurtful, bad in a moral and ethical sense), and they make haste (or, are anxious, hurried) to shed blood. Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; but they lie in wait for (what) their own blood, they lurk secretly for (what) their own lives.
Evil is always self-destructive.
Galatians 6:7-8 – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for (condition) whatever a man sows, (result) that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
The truth from Scripture teaches if a man, even your friends, are swift to do evil and live unlike the Lord Who created them, their end result will be the ruin and destruction of their own lives. They will sow to their flesh and, in doing so, reap corruption and death and despair— not only in this life, but in the life to come. But if they sow to the Spirit, as the father is trying to warn his young son, they will reap peace, joy, love, and everlasting life. There are only two roads, only two paths, and only two choices. One to life and, as Jesus said, the other to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14).
“Which will it be, my son?” the father asks. “Which road do you choose?”
Which will it be for you?
And just so we don’t fall prey to the deception we talked about in the beginning, the “evil company corrupts good habits or morals, character” thing, the father leaves us with one final, global truth that applies to all of mankind. It’s actually quite simple.
Proverbs 1:19 – So are the ways of everyone (or, the whole, everything, each, all, the entire, without exception, including you and me) who is greedy (or, to gain wrongfully or by unrighteous violence, to cut off, to break off, to be covetous) for gain (or, profit gained with selfish goals or motives in mind); it (the greed for gain) takes away (or, seizes, captures, to carry off as plunder, to snatch away) the life (or, soul, self, desire, mind, emotion, passion) of its owners.
The love for money consumes those who lust for it like an uncontrollable, raging fire that devours all that is in its path. And, unfortunately, this very love for money is the hallmark and centerpiece of our society. It becomes our idol, our passion, and the standard by which we measure our own value and self-worth.
“I make more than this guy. Therefore, I’m a better man.”
“I can take a better vacation than you. Therefore, I’m a better man.”
“I have nicer clothes, a bigger house, a brand new car. Therefore, I’m a better man.”
But in whose eyes are you deemed a better man? Yours? Probably. But certainly not in the eyes of the Lord. After all, “the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
And with our drive to be a better man, at least in our own eyes, we will soon find ourselves willing to sacrifice our marriage, our time with our children, and even our love of our Lord for just a little more money. And why? Because we’ve so quickly forgotten the warning from the Lord.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 – But those who desire to be rich (or, wealthy) fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. (why) For the love of money (or, covetousness) is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
“Don’t let that happen to you, my son,” the father would say.
How Much is Enough?
One final thought. When the multimillionaire, John D. Rockefeller, was once asked, “How much money is enough?” He replied, quite transparently, “Just a little bit more.” Or, “I really don’t know. But, for some reason, the millions of dollars I already have don’t make me feel good about myself. So I guess a little bit more will help. Just a little bit more.”
Sad. So sad.
Because true joy and purpose comes from the “fear of the Lord.” After all, that very “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). That wonderful knowledge is the blessed knowledge of the Holy One and of His ways.
And nothing compares with knowing Him.
Adveho quis may.
Come what may.
1. Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The Complete Word study Dictionary: Old Testament (p. 545). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
2. Ibid., p. 855.