Moral Value of Wisdom – Proverbs 2:1-11

Morality Is Rooted In The Wisdom Of God

1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding-
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

Desire Discernment

Each of us is given the opportunity to seek God.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.  We are to seek out wisdom and accept the commands of God.  Without the desire to be wise, we will act in foolish ways.  Each of us should desire wisdom and discernment so that we can grow in Godliness.

Wisdom is to be desired like silver or gold.  We are to place an even greater value on it than on any Earthly possessions.  Men will go to great lengths to find and extract precious metals from the Earth, but will they take the same time and energy to seek wisdom from God in prayer and through His word?

It is important to realize that without God as the source of wisdom and morality, our understanding of wisdom AND morality will be greatly skewed.  We will be subject to the whims of those who would try to convince us that their ideas of what is good and right is the truth.  However, the holy word of God clearly says that Jesus is the embodiment of truth.  We need to embrace the revealed truth of God as wisdom, and not the subtly or radically altered versions of morality that come from our fallen nature and the activity of the enemies of our souls.  Only in God will we find true wisdom.  Any source apart from God is suspect.

Wonderful Wisdom

Knowledge and understanding come forth from the mouth of God:

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

We will find success and fulfillment as we pursue a life of Godly wisdom.  It is in the instruction of the Lord that we find contentment concerning living our lives in ways that please and honor God.  It greatly pleases God when men are living in accordance with His ways.  Like finding a friend who shares your inner core beliefs in whom you can freely and openly be yourself, God desires to reveal through wisdom more of His character and ways so that we can draw close to Him.

Powerful Protection

Wisdom also provides us with protection.  It keeps us from engaging in evil ways, and helps us to avoid the pitfalls of certain temptations that can cause ruination in our lives.  King Solomon, son of King David, helps us to protect our lives from certain influences, such as promiscuity, financial indiscretion, and spiritual darkness.   Wisdom provides a shield to those who embrace her.  God guards the live of those who are just in their dealings and faithful to Him.

Divine Discretion

When we embrace Godly wisdom, we be able to rightly know the difference between good and evil. Discernment and discretion will be hallmarks in our lives.  We will be better able to answer others, and to refrain from doing and saying what is not Godly.  While this seems simple and evident, look at the state of the world.  When God’s people begin to accept worldly wisdom, their Godly discernment begins to fade, and they seem less able to make good judgments when presented with subtly skewed situations that may look OK, but lead to ruination.  Discernment and discretion protect the Godly from the wiles of the enemy.  The word of the living God shows the basis of wisdom, and His Holy Spirit reveals the unknown to those whom have given their lives to God and seek His guidance in their lives.

Umbrella of Understanding

Discretion protects us from wrongdoing if we are willing to accept the consequences of doing what is right.  There are times when we are forced into corners by the actions of evil people.  What seemed innocent becomes evil and ruination may result.  Understanding provides us with the ability to see where something will lead.  It is said that good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.  With discretion and knowledge, a lot of bad judgment can be avoided.  God has provided His word to give us instruction so that we can learn from those who have come before us.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I embrace wisdom as I should?

A short prayer of preparation

Father in Heaven, You are generous with Your wisdom to all who ask in faith.  Grant me the wisdom, discernment, and discretion needed to protect me and my family from the pitfalls of error that accompany bad judgment.  Help me to rely more upon You and less upon myself as I am faced with situations that could have immense consequences in my life.  Grant me the wisdom and knowledge to avoid that which will cause harm, and help me to be vigilant when the Holy Spirit guides me to be tested, that I may be victorious.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Developing Discernment – Proverbs 1:10-19

Don’t Gain The Whole World Just To Lose Your Soul

10 My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them.
11 If they say, “Come along with us;
let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,
let’s ambush some harmless soul;
12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
14 cast lots with us;
we will all share the loot”-
15 my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;
16 for their feet rush into evil,
they are swift to shed blood.
17 How useless to spread a net
where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.

Wicked Works

Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the Earth (with the exception of Jesus Christ), penned these words to help his son, and us, to glean from the supernatural wisdom that God imparted to him.

While it may be obvious to many that aligning ourselves with wicked men (and women!) is to be avoided, the wicked acts of men are readily seen and understood.  It is the more subtle acts of men that do not seem on the surface to be wicked that we are to avoid as well.

Wicked Words

Men (and women!) have learned how to play on the fears of others to get them to do what they want them to do.  The modern term is social engineering.  Most people will respond to someone who speaks in an authoritative voice to them, because they have been taught by their parents to be respectful and obey authority.  Although that may no longer be the case with our youngest generation, we react this way naturally.  Other types of psychological manipulation are used by these people as well.

Men (and women!) will also try to lure us into doing evil things by making good sound evil, and evil sound good.  They will play on our desire to “get ahead”, or fulfill a need in a way that does not honor God.  Humans have a natural capacity to justify our actions when our consciences bother us.  We avoid pain as much as possible, and we are then placed in circumstances where we will have to make a (often life-altering painful) decision to honor God, or go another way.

Wondering Why?

There are many reasons why we should avoid the advice of wicked people.  Solomon lists several:

  • Their feet rush into evil.
    • Rather than seek God to honor him with their minds and hands, they rush headlong into evil, both ignorant of its eventual outcome, as well as the consequences here in the physical realm.
  • They are swift to shed blood.
    • These people care nothing about each other, nor others.  They are swift to shed blood, as long as it benefits them somehow.  They do not have any concept of the value of human life, and may even traffic in it so that they can gain wealth and power.
  • The consequences are that others will see our actions plainly.
    • These people think that they are operating in darkness, when their deeds are made plain to the world!  But the question becomes, does the world even care?
  • The outcome is that they figuratively (and sometimes literally) shed their own blood!
    • Rather than do harm to their intended victims, they harm the very people they are attempting to protect – themselves!  Like Esau, they spurn their inheritance and gladly trade it for a little physical comfort.
  • Their eventual end is that they have ambushed themselves towards a specific end.
    • Their eventual outcome is that when they die, they cannot take their ill-gotten gains with them.  They must then face Almighty God before the White Throne Seat of Judgment, and pay at that time the most steep price imaginable – their eternal soul – for what they have done in the flesh.

Death and Destruction

The eventual outcome of these people is that they face death and destruction of their souls.  Discernment is required to avoid the schemes that others use to try to entice us into doing what they want us to do:

The only way to avoid these schemes is to put on the full armor of God, spend time with God in His word and prayer, and learn to discern when to spurn that which will burn.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I rightly discerning good and evil?

A short prayer of preparation

Father in Heaven, You are pure, holy, without blemish or spot.  You greatly desire all people to walk in holiness and righteousness before You.  Help me to rightly discern when others are trying to do me harm.  Help me when I inadvertently find myself cornered by the deeds of wicked men intent on destroying me, my family, my career, or my character.  Father, protect me from the wickedness of others, and help me to see Your wisdom, will, and way so that I may keep myself and my family from harm’s way.  And when You do allow wicked men and women to place me in circumstances that I did not willingly choose, I pray, Father, that You would deliver me from them just as You delivered Peter from the jailers.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Discernment and God – Philippians 1:9-11

Perfection In Love Provides Discernment For What Is Good

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Lengthening Love

Paul was given, as part of his gifting by the Holy Spirit, a heart to see the people of God grow in their knowledge and discernment. Paul recognized that since God is love, increasing in the very defining characteristic of Almighty God would provide the perfect place for the development of knowledge and insight into the wonderful character of our Creator.

As we grow in love, we grow in the understanding and capability to actively participate in the character of God, and therefore to know Him experentially. This gives us the opportunity to increase in our discernment of what is good and proper. Love fulfills the law, and love shows us the way to what is good. For of every good giving and every perfect gift, love is the most powerful and lasting of them all.

Increase Insight

Paul desires that we develop the insight into the character and experiential knowledge of God. It is not merely enough to learn about something. To truly understand it, you must embrace it and experience it. It them becomes real for you, and as you practice anything, its nuances and the depths of its virtues become apparent.

For instance, it may look wonderful to jump from an airplane, free-fall for a while, and then pull the cord to release the parachute to glide gently to the Earth. This all looks good, fun, and liberating, but until you actually do it, you won’t experience the thrill of free-fall, the wind against your face, the buffeting of the air against your body, the temporary feeling of liberation from gravity, and the majesty of seeing the land beneath you from a great height.

You won’t experience the nuance of controlling the parachute with your controls, moving left and right, leveling and directing your glide, working with and against the currents of the air, and the moment of truth as you try to gently end your flight without causing harm to your body as you either suddenly or slowly decelerate your fall with your feet and legs. It only becomes real to you when you do it. Words cannot truly describe what the body must experience. And words cannot truly describe what the spirit must experience as well.

Develop Discernment

As we exercise our spirit through the practical application of love, we will have the wonderful opportunity to increase our capacity to discern what is good. Exercising love provides the circumstances in which we can more fully understand and discern what is good and right. This gives us the perspective of wisdom – the practical application of knowledge – that helps us to grow spiritually wise.

Discernment is a vital tool in the life of a disciple of Christ. Discernment provides the filter through which paths can be assessed to end in good or evil. Discernment give the disciple insight to grow in love and the character of Almighty God. Without discernment, we will fall for every trick of the enemy, and find ourselves ruined, and possibly find our faith shipwrecked:

1 Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Because of this the land dries up,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea are swept away.

4 “But let no one bring a charge,
let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
who bring charges against a priest.
5 You stumble day and night,
and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother-
6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

“Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children.”

Filled with Fruit

The fruit of righteousness comes from and through the experiential knowledge of following Jesus Christ – obeying His commands.  When we obey Jesus, we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit has He did when He walked the Earth two thousand years ago.  And when the Holy Spirit of God indwells us, and we give Him permission to work in us and through us, we will be filled with the fruit of the Spirit:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Producing Praise

When we are walking in the spirit – being filled with the fruit of the Spirit by the One who provides the fruit, we live a life that bring glory and praise to Almighty God.  As we bear fruit in accordance with the will of God, we develop discernment concerning both how to bear fruit, and what we should avoid in order to bear more fruit.  Just as an arborist prunes trees so that the dead wood no longer burdens the tree, and increases the available nutrients for the good branches, so does discernment help us to stop feeding the dead wood in our lives.  It is only when we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit that we are living a life that is correctly modeling our divine calling and nature as image-bearers of Almighty God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: Am I increasing in the insight and discernment by allowing the Holy Spirit of God to bear fruit through me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, it is the greatest honor to bear fruit for You.  You have given me life as a branch unnaturally attached to the vine, grafted in for Your pleasure.  You prune my dead wood, and help me to grow and bear even more fruit for You.  Help me to recognize the dead wood in my life, and to deny it any thought or energy.  Help me to let it die, and be pruned off, so that I would grow in grace, wisdom, and discernment of what is good, proper, and holy.  Help me to be sustained by Your nourishment, for You provide for all of my needs.  Guide me in the way I should go, and help me to do all that You have planned for me to do in Your will and Your way.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – 1 Timothy 4:1-5

Not Everyone Who Claims To Be Of God Truly Is

1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

Deceived by Demons

It would appear that many today have abandoned their faith to listen to the teaching of demons.  They seek to enslave the people of God by placing restrictions upon them that are not required of God, and thus leading them into bondage.  This does not bode well for the people of God, who are looking for good shepherds who will protect, feed, and care for the flock.  Great care and discernment must be used to recognize the dangers of allowing leaven to be introduced to the bread.  We must remember that a little leaven will affect the whole lump of dough, causing every part of it to be infected and affected.

Lauded by Liars

These individuals who are wreaking havoc among God’s people are those who refuse to love the truth, and so have been given over to a great delusion so that they would believe the lie.  They themselves become very skilled liars, seeking to deceive any that they can.  Lies become their trade, and they perfect their craft using their skills to get dishonest gain.  Scripture says that their consciences are seared as though they have been burned by a red-hot iron.  What could drive a person to such a place?  The only conclusion is that they never did know who God was, and therefore could never really trust Him to be alongside them in their trials and difficulties.

Powerful Prohibitions

Some of the prohibitions listed by Paul are reminiscent of the ones that we have read about in cults.  Several of the more recent cults have forbidden men and women to marry.  Only the leader of the cult can marry women and have relations with them.  These cults have a tendency to fall apart.  Nevertheless the damage is already done.  Additionally, they restrict the types of food that people can eat and beverages people can drink.  Everything that God has created is good for consumption (with some exceptions that could kill or hurt us).

God’s Goodness

When God created the Earth and everything in it, He declared that it was good.  It was the fall of Adam that brought the curse of sin, and the sacrifice of Jesus as a man hung on a tree and declared to be cursed to break the power of the curse of sin.  Now, everything is good again. People can now live their lives with the power of sin broken in ways that will honor and glorify God through submission to the Holy Spirit.

Paul has said that all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  It is up to the children of Almighty God to have discernment in choosing the things that are profitable rather than the things which are merely lawful.  Either way, all of these things have been declared by God to be good.  We need not worry about what we put into our mouths.  For it is what comes out of our mouths that defiles us.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I being a Berean and vetting what I hear from people against scripture before believing it?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your Son Jesus Christ was sent to us to free us from the bondage of sin.  Help me to have a wise and discerning spirit so that I will not become entrapped by sin and the teachings of demons into a state of bondage ever again.  Guide me to Your word every time someone tells me something, and especially when it does not sound right.  Give me a heart of wisdom and may I seek You and Your counsel to verify all that I hear before I believe it.  Give the will, the time, and the ability to research these things so that I can be firmly convinced in my heart that what I hear from people who claim to be from You are truly from You and speaking Your truth.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?