The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 4: 10-19 Hear, my son, and accept my sayings And the years of your life will be many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness And drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble.
Have you ever watched the TV show Leave it to Beaver? It was a show about at nice small town boy named the Beav, and his older brother Wally, growing up in a typical American home in the 1960’s. The Beav and Wally had a friend named Eddie Haskell. Eddie was a lying, manipulative, two faced trouble maker. Every opportunity he got he sought to get the Cleaver boys into some kind of trouble. Eddie was best known for hiding his troublemaking ways behind a veneer of smiles, flattery, and deception, fooling Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver on a regular basis. To those who did not know him, who were not acquainted with his ways, he seemed like an all around nice boy. Typically, though the Beav and Wally were polite, respectful young men, they were led astray by Eddie, and rarely did their positive influence flow in the other direction and have an impact on him. He was a troublemaker, and the Cleaver boys would have been wise to have avoided having him as a friend. However, that was just a sitcom. Real life is much different, is it not? In real life, we are able to mingle with wicked men, have close friends who are stumbling blindly down paths of sin, and develop intimate relationships with those who hate God, and all the influence in the relationship will flow from us, to them, right? We develop these intimate relationships with sinners so that we can be salt and light, showing them the love of Christ with the way we live our lives. You know “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words”. We teach sinners about Christ and our relationship with him, by the way we live our lives. As Christians, who we associate with, whether in our workplaces, on Instagram, or in our homeschool co-op, doesn’t really matter, does it? That’s not what the bible says.
Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on.
This is not simply good advice. These words are meant to keep you from hellfire. Brothers and sisters, the path of the wicked is the broad road to destruction. Not only are we told to not enter this path, or to walk in it, but we are commanded to avoid it all together. What fellowship does light have with darkness? A little leaven leavens the whole lump, does it not? But what do we do?
We deceive ourselves.
We claim Christian liberty.
We compromise with sin.
We deceive ourselves by believing that the influence being exerted in our relationships flows only one way, from us to our friend. We have such lofty opinions of ourselves and our relationship with God that we ignore the command of scripture which says “He who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”, and in our pride we enter into intimate relationships with sinners and wind up looking, sounding, and behaving just like them. In our self deception we believe we can bring hot coals to our bosoms and not get burned.
In our self deception, we scramble to paint our lives as one big gray area, with everything falling into the category of “Christian Liberty”. You know, that teaching in scripture which says because you are saved, you are now free to trample the grace of God. Hiding behind “Christian Liberty” allows you to fill your mind with the same blasphemous entertainment as your friends. It permits you to be overly harsh and crass. You can partake in the dirty jokes. Under the guise of liberty, you are free to dress just as all your friends do, strutting around, flaunting your body for all the world to see, and would feign indignation should someone suggest you cover up. Holding up Christian liberty as a banner, we quickly begin looking, behaving, and sounding just like the world. Instead of exposing their evil deeds, we become just like them.
Lastly, this abuse of Christian liberty leads to a compromise with sin. “That movie is just so good, except for that one sex scene. I will try to close my eyes. Well, that and the 50x my Lord’s Name was taken in vain.” Having abused Christian liberty, things that once made us cringe and repel, now get a pass because deep down, we are titillated by it. It isn’t just movies. Social media, everyone's favorite slave master, is filled with tasty little morsels of vulgarity, soft core pornography, and other kinds of rebellion. You can even troll the pages of other Christians and get your fill of sin. Christian liberty is all the rage.
The Pastor has talked at length lately regarding womanhood, femininity, and modesty. Perhaps you have found yourself saying “By the bible’s standard, my friend does dress and act like a harlot. So what?” you might think. “It’s hot outside, she’s comfortable, and she’s cute. So why not?” Or maybe that is you. Perhaps you are the one seeking to live in the gray area, one foot in Christ, one foot in the world. “What’s that mean, one foot in Christ, one foot in the world?” It means, you are an idolater, and at war with God. God will not be mocked. He will not share His glory with another. God does not compromise with sin. He demands your obedience, and the Proverb today is clear: Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on.
In Proverbs 3 we read that when we trust in the Lord with all our heart, and lean not on our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledging Him, He will direct our steps. Psalm 23 tells us that our Good Shepherd, Jesus, will lead us onto paths of righteousness for His namesake. What path do you find yourself on today? Do your steps conform to the image of the world, or Christ? Are you on the broad road to destruction, or the narrow path which leads to life? The good news is that today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. Today is the day of salvation. Let us kneel and confess our sins to a Holy God Who is faithful and just to forgive the sins of those who call upon the Name of Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you this morning as frail, feeble creatures who are prone to wander. We are easily deceived by the promises of sin. We use the liberty found in Christ as a license to sin, and we frequently find ourselves compromising with that which you hate. Father, far too often we allow ourselves to be led along by sinful appetites, and preferences, and the influence of friends, rather than by Your Word and the Holy Spirit. Too often we take our cues from the world, which hates You, seeking to satisfy the sinful appetites of our flesh, rather than warring against them. Please be merciful to us Father. Please soften our hard hearts and help us to recognize our rebellion and flee to the cross of Christ. Please forgive us of our sins against You. In Jesus name we pray, amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Psalm 128: How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine Within your house, Your children like olive plants Around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion, And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 8/25/19 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie)