In our text, Proverbs 3:7-8, we are not shown the call and blessing. There are going to be several of these over the next few weeks, and this is all flowing from Proverbs 3:1-2. Therefore, wisdom is speaking and notice this text. The call to not be wise in our own eyes.
There are some very wise men in this world. There are some self proclaimed wise men in this world. They are not the same. If we think back through all we come into contact with, we will probably know of some of both. Those who are wise, and those who see themselves as being wise. There is a difference between having wisdom and thinking we have wisdom. The Bible is now confronting us about having true wisdom.
Our text starts off by saying to not be wise in our own eyes. Their are two parts to this. First is true wisdom, and the second is concerned about wisdom in whose view. Let us deal with the word wise first.
Wise has several meanings throughout the Old Testament. I wish to zero in on a couple of them. Wise means: To understand, comprehend, to know, to be an expert, to make wise decisions. This should give us some good grounding to work with in our study. The Bible talks about the need and importance of wisdom and the benefit of that wisdom.
We know of some very good examples of wise men in the Bible. Doing a search will bring Joseph to the forefront. Daniel is another good example. Esther was wise in knowing when to tell the king about Haman. Who can forget Solomon, the wisest man that has ever been (not that he showed discretion with all of the wives and concubines). On and on we have time and time again where wisdom was put into practice and the benefits.
But this is what the Bible is calling. That we are to be wise. But wisdom is not enough for us to apply that title to ourselves. Wisdom can only be true wisdom when it is applied to us from the outside. There are many who are “wise”. But when you talk with them, you find they know very little to anything about what they are “experts” in. This is true in every field of study and work. There are those who are known to be wise, and there are mental giants in their own mind. This is why the command is not to be wise in our own eyes.
How do we know who is wise or not? Let us use the measuring stick of Scripture and apply it to each one we talk to. These “wise” men will often show themselves because they answer with empty knowledge (Job 15:2). The “wise” will always be right in their own eyes (Proverbs 12:15). These “wise” will promote chaos, death, and misery (Proverbs 12:18). These “wise” will have surrounded themselves with unwise friends and counsel (Proverbs 13:20). These “wise” will be confident in themselves (Proverbs 14:16). The “wise” will spill out foolishness (Proverbs 15:2). The “wise” will reject those who really have wisdom (Proverbs 15:12). The “wise” will speak on anything and everything (Proverbs 17:28), and we could go on and on from here. The point being, the “wise” are really fools hoping for an elevation of self importance.
We are not to look at ourselves as being wise. The Bible condemns this self proclaimed wisdom in several places: Proverbs 12:15; 26:12; Isaiah 5:21, Romans 11:25; 12:16. Therefore, if we are not to be wise in our own mind, how are we to be wise?
The Bible again points out, and we covered this, that we are to lean on the Lord for understanding and to trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Those who are wise are to not use it to lord over anyone but notice who they are to associate with (1 Corinthians 3:18). The point being, through all of this is there is a wisdom that we should have that does not come because we look at ourselves as being wise.
Since we cannot look at ourselves for wisdom, where do we look? Proverbs 3:7 tells us. Wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord! Remember when we started Proverbs? We said that Proverbs 1:1-6 tells us Proverbs itself is a book of wisdom to impart and give wisdom and understanding to those who wish to really receive wisdom.
Before we hit our next part, I know some may say, “Well, Solomon, for all his wisdom did some very bad stuff. He married 700 wives and had 300 concubines. He allowed them to lead him astray from following the one true God. He put Israel under a lot of debt. And now you want us to listen to the wisdom from this book, which he wrote?”
My answer is yes. Not because we look to Solomon as the end all be all of wisdom. But there are a couple of points to consider. 1) Proverbs was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, while Solomon may have written this, he did so being led by God. God never made nor makes mistakes. 2) Early on, Solomon was on the right track. His failure did not come till later in life. And even he recognized the failures and vanities of what he did (look at Ecclesiastes). 3) The failure in his life does not negate the blessing God gave him (1 Kings 4:30). 4) There are many, while they are gifted, do not always do what they are supposed to do for God. They either rebel or are led astray. This is the free will that all have. We should then learn the lessons, both good and bad, from them.
So when we come to Proverbs, we find that because the book of Proverbs was written by Solomon, under the authority of the Holy Spirit, it is wise to listen to what Proverbs has to say. So now we continue.
When we look at Proverbs 3:7, we now see the call to fear the Lord, and depart from evil. This fear of the Lord is the very essence of wisdom. Let’s look at the evidence of this: Exodus 20:20; Psalm 97:10; Proverbs 3:5; 14:26; 16:6; Job 28:28; Psalm 34:11-15; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 3:11; 2 Timothy 2:19; 1 Peter 3:11.
These verses point out that true wisdom starts with the fear of the Lord which then moves into a complete turning from sin. If we are Christian, and yet we live, act, talk, and carry ourselves like the world, the question I have to ask is, are we Christian? A Christian should desire to look differently than the world. A Christian should desire to talk differently than the world. A Christian’s whole and complete being should desire to do nothing but please the Lord.
This is why, when we hear or see of “preaching” today, the question we should ask is, is there a call to holiness and purity? When I listen to many modern preachers (please note I said many, not all), the appeal to the masses is that there is no need for personal sanctification and holiness. Sin is not something to hate and abhor but they are little mistakes that we accidentally do. And we can then just say, “oops” and move on.
A true Christian will not be or do this. A real Christian will be lamenting their sin, turning from it, and if they do sin, fall on their face in reverential fear of God knowing that sin is a violation of God’s very nature. Modern “preaching” does not include that in many places. Instead it is a feel good, health, wealth, wisdom type sermon sprinkled with some “come try God out” type message. That belongs in hell’s flames with the rest of the garbage in this world.
A true Christian is going to be different from their past (2 Corinthians 5:17). As such, what we were in the past is not what we should be today (Philippians 3:13-14). Why? Because we have been forgiven and have been changed (1 John 1:9; Psalm 51:10; Micah 7:19; Colossians 1:13-14).
A “christian” (lower case on purpose) who has no issue with sin, or participating with the world on things is one we should cast a wary eye on. A true Christian will not participate in or be involved with, the things that God has clearly forbid. This is why in Proverbs 3:7, the call is to depart from evil. We have put enough verses in this devotional to give evidence that is what God wants. But here are a couple of more. God wants the Christian and church to be holy (Leviticus 19:2; 20:7; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15). This holiness means we separate from the very things that are the works of the flesh and that separate from God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Revelation 22:15).
Notice these last several passages. There are all forms of sin that God will judge. Our culture will say that these things are ok and that we Christians are just hateful bigots. After all, God is love, no one is being hurt, it is consenting adults, etc. It does not matter. God will judge and condemn all who practice these things. But this tells us we either conform to God’s standards in His Word, or we will conform to the culture. And what does God want from His church that He paid for with His blood (Acts 20:28)? As such He WANTS us to be perfect and holy (Ephesians 5:27; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Peter 3:14).
A great way to put this is that if we say we became a Christian, but we never see any change in our lives and we continue as though nothing happened, we never became a Christian. The prayer of every Christian should be, “Lord, make me more like you.” We should desire to walk after our Master, to please Him in our life, heart, and mind. Doing so, now we come back to Proverbs 3:7, brings us back to wisdom. Wisdom tells us to fear the Lord and that fear calls for us to depart from evil. It is a circle that cannot and will not be broken.
What is the blessing of doing this? Proverbs 3:8. There is health to the flesh and strength to the bones. We can spend a lot of time going through 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Revelation 22:15 and point out how each individual thing can bring about infections, diseases, hurt, pain, physical and mental handicaps, etc. But we can also point out how this affects others around those who have this. In truth, while modern science tries to find the cure to remove the consequences, they are not taking care of the sins mentioned. These consequences are God allowing the punishment for rebellion against Him. (Romans 1:18-32).
By obedience to God’s plans, and being controlled by the Spirit and not the flesh (Matthew 19:4-6; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18), we as Christians will be able to move toward Holiness and righteousness which is what we should seek first (Matthew 6:33). Our culture does not want that. Instead they want their “freedom” but that “freedom” quickly becomes a prison of its own making. Ask those who have to be treated and have caretakers for the rest of their lives. Or visit the gravesides of those who die because of this so called “freedom” that our society is pushing in schools and government. There is a reason God established marriage and sexual intimacy and limited it to a husband and wife only. There is a reason He calls for us to not be controlled by any substance. But sadly, our culture will ignore this call.
But for the Christian, to follow the will of God in being pure, holy, undefiled we will find health and strength. We know this because we know our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). As such we care for it, we guard what goes in and out of it, and we realize that God is the one who decides what we do and how we do with our bodies. Not ourselves. The Bible truly becomes our rule of living. But many times, the blessing that comes is we are healthy and whole because we obey the leading of the Spirit. This does not mean we will never be sick or get hurt. But it does mean that we will not have to worry or deal with many of the issues that those in the world face because they defy God and His authority.
Truly, wisdom plays a powerful role, not only in knowing and understanding truth, but also in our own health and well being. And it affects how we handle and what we do when we are confronted by sin. That is the wisdom we should have. The wisdom that comes, not because of our own thoughts and opinions, but wisdom that comes from God above who gives to all who ask (James 1:5).