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Is Your Heavenly Father Like Your Earthly Father?

Is Your Heavenly Father Like Your Earthly Father?

In my devotional time today in Proverbs 5, I discovered some words of wisdom I would like to share with you:

Proverbs 5:1-2 – My son, pay attention (listen carefully, give heed, obey) to my (not the world’s) wisdom; lend (extend, stretch out) your ear to my (not the world’s) understanding, (why) that you may preserve (watch, keep, guard) discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge.

The Proverbs are all about wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.  And the key to living in these blessings is to forsake the wisdom of this world, which is moronic (mōría) at best, and embrace the wisdom that only comes from God (1 Cor. 3:19).  It’s a daily choice, sometimes an hourly choice, we can make.

So how ’bout it?  Are you up for the challenge?

And one more:

Proverbs 5:21 – For the ways (path, journey of one’s life) of man (each man, you and me) are before the eyes of the LORD, and He (the Lord) ponders (to make level, to weigh, to guard or watch carefully) all his (each man, you and me) paths (goings, the circle of a camp).

Did you catch the meaning of this proverb?  Our life’s journey, our life’s choices are laid out before the Lord.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  He sees all.  Everything.  Good and bad.

Is that a good thing that nothing is hidden from God?  Or not such a good thing?  That depends on your view of God as your Father.


What is Your Heavenly Father Like?

There are two ways to look at this proverb.  And they are basically determined by our perception of what God the Father is like and how we choose to interpret the word, ponder (pālas).  One way is to focus on the part of the definition that means “to make level, to weigh.”  The image would be of a large legal scale, with our actions on one side and God’s righteousness on the other.  We would then see God as a great Judge with a mighty hammer waiting for us to cross the line, to do something disappointing to Him, something embarrassing to His character.  And once the scale becomes unbalanced towards our sin and not His righteousness, WHAM! – down comes the hammer.  In essence, “All our lives are before the Lord and He is waiting, just biding His time, until we mess up.  And when we do, geez, out comes His iron fist.”

This is a picture of an abusive father who is head over a dysfunctional family.  This is not what our God is like.

The other way to view this proverb is to focus on the other meaning of the word, ponder.  That would be to “guard or watch carefully.”  Now we see the Father as a caring, careful Parent who wants to make sure His beloved children are safe, protected, and not somewhere where they could get hurt.  He’s waiting everyday at the bus stop for them to arrive home.  He’s sitting in the stands watching every soccer game they play to make sure they don’t get hurt.  He’s hands on, proactive, and always involved.  And our blessing comes from knowing our lives are always “before the eyes of the Lord.”

This is a picture of a good father who lovingly leads a wonderful family.  And this, my friend, is what our God is like.

Rejoice today that your life is hidden with Christ (Col. 3:3) and the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matt. 10:30), and not simply counted.  And know how much your loving Father can’t keep His eyes off you— His beloved child.

Rest in that today.

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All Dressed Up and No Place to Go

All Dressed Up and No Place to Go

For the last couple of months I have been preaching about the Holy Spirit and His gifts, focusing on John 14 and 1 Corinthians 12-14, but specifically on 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.  We have asked the Lord to show us what these gifts mean, are they all still operating in the church and, if so, what does that look like today?  That’s right, we’ve dealt with all the controversial topics that tend to divide the body of Christ: second filling, baptism of the Spirit, Cessationism vs. Continuationism, the five-fold ministry, tongues and the interpretation of tongues, the role of apostles and prophets, if any, today, what is a word of knowledge and word of wisdom, and all the other crazy, scary stuff.  It’s been quite an eye opening experience to see, not what I was taught in Seminary or grew up believing in a Southern Baptist church, but what the Scriptures actually teach regarding the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in His church back then, as well as today.

Naturally, in the course of this study on the Holy Spirit, we moved to the Acts to see how this was played out in the early church in real time.  Last Sunday we preached about Peter’s sermon (Acts 2:14-39) and the amazing results of a 297 word message, excluding Scriptures, that was empowered by the very Spirit they received a few verses earlier (Acts 2:1-4).  The Promise of the Father was given (Acts 1:4), and 3,000 people joined the 120 in faith in the risen Lord Jesus.

What an amazing day that must have been.

But now what?  How do these 3,000 new believers, many from areas outside of Jerusalem (Acts 2:5-11), grow in their new faith?  What are they to do?  Where do they go?  How do they learn?  There would be so many questions each of them had.  Where would they go to find the answers?

If they returned back home to Egypt or Rome, for example (Acts 2:10), who would disciple them?  Who would teach them truth from error?  They would be the only ones in their country that had received salvation as evidenced by the giving of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14).  No one carried the light of Christ to their families and friends but them.  No one was to speak into the darkness but them.  They were alone.  Uncertain.  Literally babes in the midst of Jewish wolves.  By returning home they were, in effect, being sent out as missionaries to tell others about the new life found in Christ— the Christ whom they knew nothing about other than what Peter had preached, and what they were just now discovering for themselves.

It was a recipe for colossal failure.  Much like sending an eight year old to convince an atheist University professor of the validity of the New Testament text.  They were vastly outgunned and woefully inexperienced in the things of Christ.  They needed a time to grow, to mature, to understand what just happened to them.  They needed time to come to grips with their faith in the Lord Jesus, and what that faith meant from that moment forward.


A New Home

So, most likely, many of them stayed.  Where else were they to go to hear about the “wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11).

Once, after Jesus proclaimed His unpopular, politically incorrect truth about the kingdom of God that offended the half-committed, many of His followers “went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:65).  Jesus had been telling them about the all-consuming relationship they were to have with Him.  This new life they had experienced, this born-again reality was not like going to the synagogue once a week to dance around their Jewish maypole, feel good for a moment or two, faithfully perform their religious duty, and then go back to life as usual.

This was different.

Religion tries to make us feel good about ourselves by following some man-made ritual that, at least on the outside, makes us look better than we were before— especially when we compare ourselves with ourselves or with others who are struggling like us.

But this was different.  Completely different.

What Jesus came to bring was a totally new life.  The old man, our old life, is not rehabilitated or made better, or less offensive, by Christ’s sacrifice.  He is put to death.  Dead and buried.  Just like Christ.  Jesus sees nothing in us worth bringing into the new life He’s purchased for us (Isa. 64:4).  Nothing.  So all of the old man, the pride, fear, lusts, wants, desires, religion, rights, needs, literally everything— dies.  Everything gets buried.  Everything rots.  And the new man, what Paul later called the “new creation” in Christ, is born again (2 Cor. 5:17).  Born anew.  Born from above.  Resurrected to a new life (Rom. 6:4), created in the image, or likeness of God (Eph. 4:24), and secured by the indwelling presence of God Himself— in the person of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14).

This was a message the religious crowd in Jesus’ day, and in our day, finds offensive.  So they left Him to find another guru that was willing to teach what they wanted to hear, about how to have Your Best Life Now!

Look at the question of Jesus and the answer of Peter.

John 6:66-69 – From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.  Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”  But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Exactly.  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

This was the same sentiment those who came to faith at Peter’s sermon most likely had.  Why go back home?  Back to what?  People who don’t know what I now know, which is next to nothing.  Everything has now changed.  I’m a new man.  I see things differently.  And I now have needs I didn’t even know existed before.

“Lord, I need to grow in my faith.  I need to understand more of You who re-created me into something new.  I need to know what Your will for me is now.  Where am I to go?  What am I to do?  I need to learn how to hear Your voice and recognize when You speak.  I need to be taught how to pray?  I want my faith to grow.  I want to understand the gifts the Spirit has given me to exercise for You.  Lord, I need to spend time in Your presence and at Your feet.  There’s so much I don’t know.  So much that seems confusing to me.  Lord, if I may, these other believers are now my family.  And this, Your church, is now my home.”

And so they stayed.


They Continued Steadfast

Notice what happened next.

Acts 2:42 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

But there is so much more here than we read on the surface.

Do you want to know how these new believers spent the rest of their lives?  Do you want to find out what made them the kind of people that turned the world upside down in the span of a few years (Acts 17:6)?  Do you think we, as the church, can learn anything from the life they forged for us with the Spirit?

I do.  But that’s something we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to discover together.

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The Focus of Our Faith

The Focus of Our Faith

The context of Psalm 3 deals with David’s great betrayal at the hands of his own son, Absalom, whom he dearly loved (2 Sam. 18:33).  Absalom had driven his father from the holy city, Jerusalem, and was seeking to usurp his kingdom and take his life.  David’s guilt as a failed father towards his rebellious son must have been unbearable.  Adding to that the guilt of his own sin with Bathsheba and the murder of his close friend, and her husband, Uriah the Hittite (2 Sam. 11:15), may have caused David to feel Absalom’s actions were justified, a fitting penalty for the sins of David’s past.

The future looked bleak.  There was division within his own family.  To regain his kingdom he would have to wage war against his own son, forcing him to repay evil for evil to the one he loved.  God was grieved and David was unsure as to what to do.


Our Focus

There is much for us to learn about God and our own problems in this psalm.  Note, for example, what happens when we, like David, focus on our problems and what others say about our situation:

Psalm 3:1-2 – LORD, how they have increased who trouble me!  Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.”

But now, the focus has shifted from what is before us to our God and all He has promised.  You can almost feel David’s faith begin to grow:

Psalm 3:3-4 – But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.  I cried to the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.

As Corrie ten Boom once said, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

David realizes God has not abandoned him.  He has cried out to his Lord, our Lord, and his voice had been heard.  God was still on His throne and He still loved his son, David, no matter how desperate the circumstances.  The same truth applies to each of us when we get our focus off our problems— the immediate, the overwhelming, and focus instead on what lasts— the Eternal, the Lord, the Sovereign One.

And the result of that change in focus?  No more fear.  Rest and peace in the face of turmoil.  Confidence in Him and Him alone.  “God’s got this. I’ve nothing to fear.”

Psalm 3:5-6 – I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.  I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

After all, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).  Great question.  Answer, no one.  Not even Absalom.

This thought brings great courage to David.  God is not finished with him yet.  Today and tomorrow are just setbacks.  But God’s plan endures to all generations.

Finally, that confidence is expressed in action.  David, and each of us, find our prayers going from “Help me, please, for I am dying” to “Arise, O Lord” and do what You promised to do for your children.

Psalm 3:7-8 – Arise, O LORD; Save me, O my God!  For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.  Salvation belongs to the LORD.  Your blessing is upon Your people

Did you get that? “Your (God) blessing is upon Your (God) people.”


The End from the Beginning

One final thought, did you notice all of God’s actions are recorded in the past tense (have struck, have broken)?  That’s right.  For the child of God, we can rest in faith knowing what God has promised to do has already been done in the eyes of the Lord.  His Word never changes.  If God promises to do something for us, in faith, it’s already done.  It’s finished, established, completed, done.  Time is a construct of man, not of God.  He sees everything, past, present and future, in real time.  Scripture calls that seeing “the end from the beginning” (Isa, 46:10).  We simply have to rest, by faith, in the completed work of the Lord even though our eyes may see, for a time, something quite different.

David saw Absalom’s rebellion and his kingdom, the one promised to David by the Lord, ripped from his hands.  But not God.  None of that surprised Him.  God knew how all of that was going to turn out and His knowledge of the future was not based on changing circumstances, but on what He had promised David in the past.  What was currently happening, in God’s eyes, were merely details.

So we should also live our lives with the same focus on Him, with eyes of faith, seeing the truth of what God sees and not what our circumstances cause us to fear.  The promises our faithful God has made to each of us are true, and will come to pass, regardless of how dark and bleak our circumstances may seem today.  And living in the reality of this faith, to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), will give us the peace and assurance in Him that will help us know our Lord sustains us and gives us the confidence to proclaim, even in the midst of the battle, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (Ps. 3:6).

Psalm 3:8 – Salvation belongs to the Lord, Your blessing is upon Your people.

The “Your people” also include you and me, those chosen in Him “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).  And His blessing is upon His people.  Take a moment, stop fretting, and rest in that.

Pray for the Lord to open your eyes today to see the wonder of His grace and sovereignty in all things (Ps. 115:3) and to teach you how to live like children of the Most High God (Rom. 8:17).  Which, as incredible as it sounds, you are.

Praise be His Name!

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336:  Tough Words to Fathers and Children

336: Tough Words to Fathers and Children

In Colossians 3 the Lord confronts us with a checklist that deals with the proper attitudes we are to have in our most cherished relationships: wife to husband and husband to wife, children to parents and fathers to children, and employers to employees and employees to their employers.

In this lesson we’re going to look at some of the tough words the Lord has to say to both fathers and their children about their relationship both to Him and to each other.

Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. – Col. 3:20-21

To find out more, just keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 3:20-21.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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Wisdom is a Choice, So Choose Wisely

Wisdom is a Choice, So Choose Wisely

To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity.
Proverbs 1:2-3

The question often asked is how Solomon received the wisdom of God?  How did all that come about?  What was the experience like?  What was the process?

From the account in 1 Kings we find little to shed light on the specific details of that momentous event.  What we do see is Solomon overwhelmed with the responsibility of leading the kingdom he inherited from his father David and recognizing he is but “a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in” (1 Kings 3:7).  Then, in a marvelous way, God grants his request and gives him, not only a “wise and understanding heart” (1 Kings 3:12), but also throws in what Solomon didn’t ask for, “both riches and honor” (1 Kings 3:13) simply because He wanted to.

And from then on we see Solomon acting, sometimes, in the wisdom God gave him and, at other times, living like a rich, spoiled brat making “dumb as a brick” decisions for himself, his family, and the nation God trusted him to lead.

But how is that possible?  How can a man given the very wisdom of God make dumb, lousy, selfish decisions?  Didn’t God make Solomon a wise man when He gave him His wisdom?  Didn’t God just zap him, like He did Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road, and turn him into something he wasn’t before?  Or maybe God simply enhanced the wisdom Solomon already possessed?  Maybe Solomon was already a wise man and God just gave him the 2.0 update?  Plus, when God gives you or me His wisdom, does that mean everything we do or say is wise and from God?  And if not, why?  How can we, like Solomon, be given the wisdom of God and then go around making lame, stupid decisions?  How is that even possible?


Solomon Was Not a Wise Man

Let’s nip this one in the bud right out of the gate.  Solomon was not an inherently wise man.  He was not one whose very nature oozed wisdom.  How could he be?  The decisions and choices he made as a father, husband and king are anything but wise and they reflect his true nature.  When Solomon relied on the wisdom of God, he made incredibly wise decisions— some of which we still marvel at today.  But when left to himself Solomon, like you and me, made decisions and choices according to his own nature, according to what he was made of on the inside.  And for Solomon, his nature was anything but wise.

Just think, how wise was it as a husband to have 300 wives and 700 concubines?  How wise was that?  Think of the infighting within his own family.  Think of how used and rejected his wives felt, not to mention the concubines.  And this selfish, unwise decision to marry so many women wasn’t a momentary lapse of reason for Solomon.  It wasn’t something he did and regretted later, vowing to never make the same mistake again.  This pattern of thinking was habitual, ingrained, and occurred over a 1,000 times.

Then you have the children.  Hatred, jealousy, bigotry, and bitterness was the rule of the day, so much so that the kingdom was irreparably torn in two after Solomon’s death by two of his own children.  What does this show us about Solomon’s nature and core values regarding his responsibilities of being a father?  Where’s the wisdom in any of this?

Finally, how did Solomon the spiritual leader do?  Horrible.  He allowed his many wives to desecrate the sanctity of his own home, the holiness of the Temple of God and the very nation by building altars to their foreign gods and bringing idolatry into the land.  How could Solomon allow this to take place under his watch?  How can one man be so wise and yet fail so miserably?  Solomon’s true nature reveals the carnality, apathy, and weakness of Solomon the man, and not the inherent wisdom often attributed to him.


Wisdom is a Choice

The wisdom Solomon received from the Lord is the same thing you and I receive in Christ.  Solomon received wisdom but you and I receive Christ into our lives, “who became for us wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30).  And then, once we’ve received Christ, it’s up to us to live and “walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).  Like with Solomon, it becomes a choice.  A simple, but difficult choice.

When we choose to live according to the new nature within us, according to the wisdom given to us by Christ and administered by the Holy Spirit, we will naturally make wise decisions.  Why?  Because we are “walking in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16) and have the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).  But when we choose to go our own way, to call the shots as we see fit, or to live according to the flesh, we can expect our end to be the same as Solomon’s.  Remember, it’s a choice, the exercise of our free will: to choose either the blessings of a life of submission to Christ or the heartache of a life brought on by the rebellion of our flesh.

It’s a choice— your choice.  So choose wisely.

And once you’ve chosen wisely, your job’s not done.  You still have to act on that choice.  Look at the transition about wisdom in Proverbs 1:2-3.

To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity.

First we are “to know” wisdom in Proverbs 1:2 and then “to receive the instruction of wisdom” in the next verse.  We go from knowing to receiving in the space of 20 words.  One is an understanding of something and the other is a choice, literally an action based on that choice— the receiving of something found only in Him.  We can “know” wisdom, or Christ, truth, right from wrong, good and evil, up from down, and all sorts of wonderful things, and yet still choose to live contrary to what we “know” and suffer, like Solomon, the horrific consequences of that choice.  Or, we can know the truth and choose the truth and be set free by the truth (John 8:32).  It’s really that simple.

Easy?  No.  Simple?  Absolutely.


Wisdom is a Gift

In other words, the wisdom Solomon received from the Lord is the same wisdom available to each of us today by the residing presence of the Holy Spirit.  And we already have in us, available to us, the same wisdom of God given to Solomon.  How?  By virtue of being “in Christ” who “became for us wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30).  The key to living in the gift of wisdom already given us boils down to what we do with that gift?  Do we “receive (or choose to receive) the instruction (or, discipline, correction, chastisement) of wisdom” (Prov. 1:3) or do we hide it away and let it die from inactivity and lack of use?  Jesus said we are the “light of the world” and He commands us to place that light, our lives, including His wisdom and redeeming power and grace in us, like a lamp on the table for the whole world to see (Matt. 5:14-16).

Remember, it’s more than just “knowing”— it’s “receiving” and having the discipline (instruction) to obey what we’ve received.


It Comes in One Package

Plus, it all comes in one package.  Consider, for example, the passage in Galatians where it says the “works (plural) of the flesh are evident” (Gal. 5:19-21) and then goes on to list them, one by one: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, and the like.  But these “works” or “deeds” of the flesh are freestanding, independent, and are not part of a combined package.  You can have one or more of these but not necessarily all.  You can commit, for example, adultery but not murder.  Have hatred and selfish ambition, but not idolatry or sorcery.  Why?  Because the word “works” or “deeds” is plural, meaning many— that’s many individual works and not one work made up of many individual parts.  Do you see the difference?

But the “fruit” of the Spirit is just the opposite.  It’s singular, just one fruit, made up of a combination of nine different attributes: love (agape), joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).  You get one, you get them all.  They come in a package.  It’s all or nothing.

And this is how we receive wisdom from the Lord.  We receive Jesus, the one fruit, and all the attributes or the fullness of the Godhead that dwell in Him bodily.  And we, being “in Christ” are complete in Him (Col. 2:9-10).

So you and I have the same Spirit, the same wisdom, made available and given to Solomon.  All we have to do is rely on that wisdom, who is the residing presence of the Holy Spirit, for God’s wisdom to manifest itself in us.

Again, it’s just that simple.  Difficult?  Yes.  But simple, nonetheless.


So What Happened to Solomon?

The same things that happened to each of us when we received Christ as Lord and the Holy Spirit came to make us His home, or to abide, in us.  When He came, so did His wisdom.  It’s always there, always available, always ready.  Solomon received what we’ve received, but in part.  He received wisdom.  But we, on the other hand, have received Christ, who became for us “the wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30)— but also so much more.

We just need, maybe even more than Solomon did, to rest in His wisdom and to “walk (think, live, and choose) according to the Spirit, (why) and you shall not fulfill (like Solomon) the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

Are you ready?  Then let’s get started living in the inheritance and wisdom God has already provided us as “joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

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Getting Serious

1.  Did you ever wonder how Solomon was given the wisdom from God?  And, did you ever want to know how that same wisdom could be given to you?
2.  Did you ever think the wisdom given to Solomon was something only given to special saints and not to ordinary, everyday people like you and me?  And, if so, why did you think that?
3.  How does it make you feel to know, or at least to entertain the thought, that you already possess the wisdom Solomon had by virtue of the Holy Spirit living in you?  In fact, by being “in Christ” you possess much more than Solomon.  How does that make you feel?
4.  Let me ask this again: When was the last time God spoke to you through His Word?  What was that experience like?  How often does it happen?
5.  On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process?  What was it yesterday?  Are you growing in the wisdom of God?  And, if not, why?


Next Step Challenge

Take your Bible and look up at least 25 passages where the term “in Christ” is used.  What do they say about your life right now?  For starters, you can begin with four verses from Romans provided below.

Romans 6:11 – Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God (how) in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (how) in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are (what) in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 12:5 – So we, being many, are one body (how) in Christ, and individually members of one another.

And how will you let what you’ve learned change your life from this point forward?

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Proverbs 1:8-19 – The Danger of Bad Company

Proverbs 1:8-19 – The Danger of Bad Company

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 1:11aIf (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 1:13We (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.

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1.  Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The Complete Word study Dictionary: Old Testament (p. 545). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
2.  Ibid., p. 855.

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