Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Proverbs 14:15 --- Spiritual Warfare

Proverbs 14:15
The simple believes everything,
    but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
                                   
Gary Brady opens his comments on this verse with a word about "the simple" or gullible.  He writes:  "They say that the word gullible has not appeared in English dictionaries since 1975."  He then adds, "If you believe that then you are definitely gullible!"[1]
                                                      
The simple person in Proverbs is the person who tends to follow popular opinion.  As Ephesians 4:14 puts it, he is the person who is "tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes."  The simple person is the person who does not yet understand the reality of our world that it is a place of spiritual warfare which began when Eve gullibly believed the lie of the serpent in the garden.  From that point on the battle for the hearts and minds of men ensued, and the warning from the apostle John must be heeded: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).

The other day someone, who belongs to a Protestant mainline church with liberal tendencies, told me that one of their former pastors sent him a book.  The book taught that the historical facts of the Christian faith, things like the incarnation, miracles, the death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord do not matter.  Instead what matters is what these things symbolize and teach.  While I was glad this person saw through this nonsense, it is a bit sad that he sat under this person's preaching for a number of years, but was unable to discern the pastor's lack of soundness.  How easily we can be deceived to the detriment of our souls.  We are all in need of discernment to "discern the truth about events, people, enticements and promises."[2]  We need the Berean spirit, who tested even the apostle's words against the Old Testament Scriptures:  "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."

We should not be surprised that the historicity and truthfulness of the Word of God are always under attack.  This was the serpent's modus operandi and strategy from the beginning.  "Did God really say?" he asked.  But the Christian faith is historical as we all acknowledge every time we confess the Apostles Creed and the words, "He suffered under Pontius Pilate."  Why mention Pontius Pilate?  We mention this Roman governor because we believe our Lord truly suffered, truly died, and truly rose bodily from the tomb in a historical time and place.

While it appears we have strayed a bit from our proverb, we really have not.  We must read the imprecise parallelism into each parallel.  The imprecise parallel is this:

            "believes everything"
            is parallel with
            "gives thought to his steps."

The simple who is prone to believe "any word" (this is the literal rendering of the Hebrew) he hears, is just the opposite of the prudent man, who believes the Word of God, and judges all things through that holy lens.  Similarly, the prudent man who gives thought to his steps is just the opposite of the simple man who does not give thought to his steps, but lives however he pleases.  One man is guided by the Word of God, and walks in the light of its teaching.  The other man is guided by whatever word is popular in his culture and lives however he pleases, with no regard to the Lord and his Word.  One man follows the second Adam's course, Jesus Christ, to his eternal blessing; the other man follows the first Adam's course to eternal ruin.

Faith is only as sound as its object.  The Word of God which points to the Word incarnate, is flawless and perfect.  The only reason, we don't see this is because like the simple, we have believed false words from our culture, or even from our church, about Scripture.  Our Lord believed the Scriptures were completely true and without error, and so should we.  Jesus, speaking of the entire word of God or "Law," was so confident of its veracity, that he believed it down to the smallest marks (iota and dot) of the Hebrew alphabet: "For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished" (Matthew 5:18).

Bridges is right when he writes, "To believe every word of God is faith.  To believe every word of man is credulity."[3]  Let us close with this paean of praise to the Word of God from Psalm 19:7-11:

            The law of the Lord is perfect,
                reviving the soul;
            the testimony of the Lord is sure,
                making wise the simple;
            the precepts of the Lord are right,
                rejoicing the heart;
            the commandment of the Lord is pure,
                enlightening the eyes;
            the fear of the Lord is clean,
                enduring forever;
            the rules of the Lord are true,
                and righteous altogether.
            More to be desired are they than gold,
                even much fine gold;
            sweeter also than honey
                and drippings of the honeycomb.
            Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
                in keeping them there is great reward.


 





[1] Brady, Proverbs, 392.
[2] Kitchen, Proverbs, 310.
[3] Bridges, Proverbs, 179.

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