So, our series on wisdom began several weeks ago, and we have learned many important truths:
We began by looking at what the benefits of wisdom are, and we saw that with wisdom comes life, honor, riches, favor, promotion, long life, etc. Therefore, we saw that if all of these blessings come with wisdom then we all must still have a need for more wisdom in our lives.
Then, we began defining wisdom by both looking at what wisdom is and what wisdom is not. We saw that wisdom is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding. In other words, it is the ability to use knowledge and understanding in order to think and act in such a way that common sense prevails and choices are beneficial and productive. So, we learned that a good definition of wisdom is being skilled and an expert in the arena of life.
So, we’ve spent the past couple of weeks looking at the over-arching principle of wisdom – that it is about living rightly, based on God’s perspective and His standards. It is love! It is faith! It is hope! Wisdom looks at things from His perspective and acts accordingly.
Therefore, we looked at the heart of wisdom, which is that wisdom always looks ahead. It lives for its “retirement” in eternity and does not spend all of its time, energy and resources on today. This is called living for spiritual and eternal “investments” as opposed to living in spiritual, eternal “debt.”
Now we are going to get into many of the different practical things of this life, but it would be irresponsible of me to not spend some time on the spiritual, eternal things - for this is the epitome of wisdom. So, last week, we looked at something that you will find threaded throughout the Book of Wisdom (i.e. Proverbs) – the subject of foolishness.
You know, if you have become more familiar with the Book of Proverbs recently, you will see that the Holy Spirit likes to differentiate between the wise person and the fool. In other words, a fool is the exact opposite of a wise person according to the Scriptures.
And without going into a lot of detail of how a fool is described in the Bible, if there was one way to summarize foolishness according to Solomon is would be that a fool SINS. That’s right! The most foolish thing one could do according to the Bible is SIN! My friends, sin is stupid! Yes, sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and pay you what you definitely don’t want to be paid. You will live bankrupt of the life of God!
So, this is what we looked at last week, and we delved into several Scriptures in the Book of Proverbs that describe the “harlot” or the “seductress.” But we saw that even though the specific reference to sexual sin is used, the Holy Spirit was giving us the ways that sin in general tempts everyone.
We looked at James chapter one and saw how the same analogy is used in the New Testament to describe the process of temptation. We learned from these verses that temptation does not occur because “the devil made me do it.” No, temptation only occurs as we have a “desire” for that wrong thing. In other words, if we did not have the desire within us, then there would be no chance for us being tempted. But we also learned that just because we are tempted, does not mean that we have sinned. No, we only sin when the desire conceives in our heart.
So, we learned how to use spiritual “birth control” and take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. But we also learned that the best form of birth control is “abstinence”- that is, steering clear of what would cause one to even have the chance of conceiving sin. We looked at several examples of this in the Scriptures: namely, David & Bathsheba and righteous Lot. We saw how not being in the wrong place at the wrong time and not playing around the mud puddle is what will keep us in the place of holiness.
So, this week, I want us to move on into a subject regarding wisdom that is very near and dear to my heart - for we all have the tendency to “magnify our ministry.”
OUR FIRST OPPORTUNITY FOR WISDOM
I want you to first notice that after Solomon begins his Book of Proverbs by explaining the book’s intent (see verses 1-6), he says in verse 7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
So, do you see the one of the primary characteristics of a foolish person is that they “despise wisdom and instruction.” In others words, they are foolish and remain foolish because they do not esteem wisdom nor do they appreciate instruction.
Notice we see back in verse 5 that a wise person hears, increases learning and attains wise counsel, but a fool despises this wisdom and instruction. Being a teacher, I’ve seen this far too often. While they will not necessarily say it, so many people feel like they don’t need to be taught and that it’s time to move on from sound biblical teaching. Church, that is foolishness. No, wisdom is always a student. Never does true, unadulterated wisdom stop learning. The moment it does, it has begun its journey towards being a fool. That is the simple truth!
And do you know when this despising of wisdom and instruction usually starts? Just look down at the next two verses and you will get your answer:
Proverbs 1:8-9 say, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother. For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.”
I want you to notice that one of the first things that Solomon exhorts us with in Proverbs is for the children to listen to their parents. And why do you suppose that this is at the beginning of the Book of Wisdom? It is because this is generally the first opportunity that we have to acquire wisdom - from our parents at a young age. Now I know that some of our experiences might be different, but the bottom line is that this should be every child’s first opportunity to get wisdom - from parents who train their children well, both loving and disciplining them.
But what do most sons and daughter who were exposed to parents who desired to instruct their children do? They reject it! They think, “Aw, pops don’t know what he’s talking about!”- and they go ahead and do what they want.
How many of us did this with our parents? And how many of us wish we would have listened to some of that counsel they gave us?
Well, if you did not have parents who imparted wisdom into you, or are a part of the majority of us who did not heed the wisdom of our parents when we were younger, I have good news for you today: You have a Heavenly Father who is crying out to you like Solomon obviously was to his children here, and He desires for you to listen to His words, counsel and instruction!
So, let’s go back over to our golden text in Proverbs 4:5-9 and I want you to notice one statement that Solomon made in these verses. Again, he said, “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”
Notice that he said after he told us to “Get wisdom!” and “Get understanding” to specifically “…not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.” So, this shows us one of the ways in which we “get wisdom” - by not forgetting what wisdom has said to us and not turning away from the words of her mouth.
Now as we’ve already made the point of - one can read this literally as Solomon exhorting his children to not forget the instructions he has given to them and for them not to turn away from His instructions. But it can also be the inspired words of our Heavenly Father exhorting us not to forget nor turn away from the Words He has spoken to us.
So, like I told you last week, don’t read the portions of Proverbs that begin with “My Son…” as just Solomon’s words to his kids; Since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, read these passages of Scripture as they are in truth, God speaking to you, His child, pleading with you to listen to Him.
So, let’s look at these Scriptures today and see what our Heavenly Father is saying to us in this Book of Wisdom. First of all, let’s back up to the beginning of this chapter and see one of these exhortations:
Proverbs 4:1-4 says, Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, He also taught me, and said to me: ‘Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.’”
You see, this describes the process of wisdom - to pass on what you have learned. This is God’s best! For one generation to teach another generation, and every time we do this, we are always increasing - line upon line, precept upon precept.
For example, did you know that today we are benefiting from some great teaching that has been imparted to us over the past Century? Yes, revelation has been coming fast in the Church and now we are blessed to have heard so many wonderful truths from God’s Word! Thank God for the teaching we have received in the Body of Christ!
Let’s look down at another section of Scriptures here in Proverbs chapter 4: Proverbs 4:10-13 says, “Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life.”
Isn’t it interesting that the first commandment with promise is to honor your father and mother that it might be well with you and you will live long on the earth? Well, how does one honor his or her father and mother? It begins with heeding their instructions.
Well, here we see the same promises given to those who honor the Words of their parents - “and the years of your life will be many.” This is where life is, and this is where it is good with us! And I can guarantee you that this also applies to our Heavenly Father’s words and sayings too!
On down in Proverbs chapter 4, we have another more familiar passage: Proverbs 4:20-23 says, “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
Here, we see the prescribed formula for receiving the words of the wise - by giving attention to them (refusing to be distracted), inclining our ear to hear them (being intently focused on what is being said), not letting them depart from our eyes (continuing to focus on them), and keeping them in the middle of our heart (valuing them). When we follow these directions for “taking” God’s Word, it’s acts as medicine in our lives and makes us full of life and health. Amen!
Now let’s skip back to Proverbs chapter 2 and look another powerful passage in Proverbs: Proverbs 2:1-6 says, “My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding…”
These verses show us how we receive this wisdom from the Father: it is by truly cherishing and valuing His words and commands.
In Proverbs chapter 3, Solomon gives us even more benefits to receiving His words of wisdom: Proverbs 3:1-4 says, “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.”
On an interesting side note - we see even the Master Himself heeding the promises contained in these verses: Again, they encourage us not to forget His law but let our heart keep His commandments so that (for one) we can “find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.” Well, if you look at Luke 2:41-51, you will see how the Lord Jesus, when He was a boy, lingered behind in Jerusalem. What was He doing? He was in the midst of the teachers in the Temple both “listening to them and asking them questions.”
Isn’t that amazing that the Word Himself was not teaching them Himself, but was listening and asking questions? But as you are learning today, this is how wisdom comes, amen?
But notice what Luke 2:52 immediately says on the heels of Jesus’ humble desire to learn His Father’s law and commandments. It says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” So, He increased in wisdom, right? But notice what else He increased in: in favor with God and man. Sounds a lot like Proverbs 3:4, doesn’t it?
So, my question then is this: if the Lord needed to listen and ask questions, if the Lord desired the Words of His Father like this, if the Lord needs to increase in wisdom, what makes you and I feel like we don’t need to? Amen?
On another side note, obeying what you agree with is not submitting - that is called doing. Submitting is obeying when you DON’T agree with what is being taught or said - choosing to do it even when you don’t agree with it or don’t like it.
Moving on in Proverbs: Proverbs 6:20-23 says, “My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; When you sleep, they will keep you; And when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life…”
Proverbs 7:1-5 says, “My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” And call understanding your nearest kin, that they may keep you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words.”
Notice in this passage that keeping God’s words and His law as the apple of your eye is what will keep you from the seductress of sin. The Scriptures actually teach us that about themselves. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Here are a few more passages in Proverbs that talk about the importance of God’s Word in our lives:
Proverbs 13:13-14 says, “He who despises the word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded. The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”
Proverbs 16:20 says, “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.”
Proverbs 22:17-21 says, “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise and apply your heart to my knowledge; For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them all be fixed upon your lips, so that your trust may be in the Lord; I have instructed you today, even you. Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?”
But oh how so many of God’s children fail to do this. They forget the Word of God and move on to the deeper, “spiritual” things. Yes, they turn away from His Word and put their attention on natural, carnal things that appeal to the senses. Saints, this is foolish! The truth is, there is no wise person who is not a Word person!
WHAT MAKES ONE WISE
In 2 Timothy chapter 3, we have an important section of Scriptures that teach us the importance of God’s Word in our lives:
2 Timothy 3:13-17 says, “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
First of all, notice that the Apostle Paul states that evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. Now Paul had just made the point in the beginning of this chapter that in the last days perilous times will come and then he goes on to describe the characteristics of these last of the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-9).
So, what keeps us from these deceptive and evil times and these deceptive and evil people? Notice verse 14: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of…” Sounds a lot like that phrase we just looked at in Proverbs 4:5, doesn’t it?
Then he goes on to say in verse 14: “…knowing from whom you have learned them.” Well, this is likely a reference to Paul himself as he described in verses 10-11 how Timothy had carefully followed his doctrine, manner of life, etc. Did you know that this is not just applicable to Timothy? We too can “carefully follow the Apostle Paul’s doctrine too! How? By esteeming the truths contained in his epistles! Amen!
But Paul goes on to say in verse 15: “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures…” You see, Timothy was also raised well. He was at least a 3rd generation believer in that both His grandmother and mother had strong faith (see 2 Timothy 1:5). So not only did Timothy have the good instruction given to him by his parents, but his father in the faith imparted even more wisdom into his life.
But again, do not despair if you didn’t have the spiritual guidance of your parents or if you have not had a spiritual mentor; you have the WORD of your Heavenly Father, and that is more than enough to make you WISE!
Notice what Paul said in verse 15: “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” So, what makes you and I wise? It’s the Holy Scriptures! You see, it is the Word that imparts God’s wisdom to us, and this is how we get wisdom - through the Holy Scriptures!
THE PROFIT OF THE SCRIPTURES
Notice that Paul then goes on to give us the many wonderful benefits of the Word of God: He says in verse 16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”
First of all, notice that these benefits come from “all Scripture”- not just the portions of Scripture that you like the best or the Books of the Bible that you think are the most beneficial. No, all Scripture is profitable and necessary for us to be completely wise.
For example, there are those who think that the Pauline Epistles (i.e. the letters Paul wrote) are really all that is profitable. Well, there are certainly things that the Apostle Paul wrote that you will not find elsewhere in Scripture and it is vital that we glean from His wisdom. However, if that is all of the Scriptures that you feed on, you will be malnourished spiritually.
Deuteronomy 8:3 said, as Jesus quoted in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Therefore, in order for us to truly “live” in sound wisdom, we must feed on every word that has come out of God’s mouth. Amen?
You see, we need all 66 books of the Bible in order to truly be wise in every area of life. Now there are some Books that I haven’t discovered the true purpose of yet, just like I haven’t discovered the purpose of some foods available to us, but that doesn’t mean there is not some profit that comes from them. Wisdom will acknowledge that.
But Paul said that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is “profitable” for four things: “doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.”
Now “doctrine” is not necessarily a bad thing. It just simply means “teaching” or you could say “instruction.” So, God’s Word is profitable for teaching and instruction. What a novel idea! To actually use God’s Word when one teaches and instructs others. Sadly, this is not practiced from many pulpits, but it should be. We should “preach the Word” (see 2 Timothy 4:2).
Next, God’s Word is profitable for “reproof.” While the translators used this word that describes being rebuked or corrected, this word literally describes “proof or evidence.” Did you know God’s Word is to be the only evidence you need? Many err in seeking after signs instead of simply taking God at His Word. Wisdom does not do that. Wisdom believes God and takes His Word at face value. It doesn’t need to see signs and wonders or to have any other emotional stimulation; God’s Word is all the evidence wisdom needs!
Paul goes on to say that God’s Word is profitable for “correction and instruction in righteousness.” This word “correction” describes being restored to an upright, correct or right state. In other words, God’s Word will set you straight again. It will also instruct you in the ways of righteousness. In other words, it will teach you what is right and how to stay on the right path. What wonderful benefits of God’s Word - to offer us correction, to set us straight, and to instruct us in what is right.
Now many do not embrace correction and instruction. We will receive God’s Word alright - at least the parts of it that don’t mess with our lives too much and don’t mess with our little pet doctrines. But saints, one of the most important parts of acquiring wisdom is learning to receive correction and instruction. In fact, there are a lot of Scriptures in the Book of Proverbs that talk about the importance of receiving correction and how this is what a wise person does. Let’s look at a few of them:
Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Now you don’t get any more in your face than that, do you? So, if we do not love instruction and correction, then we do not love knowledge and we are stupid.
Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” So, if we are a wise son or daughter of God, what will we do? We will listen to our Heavenly Father’s instruction. And if we do not listen to “rebuke” then we are what the Bible calls a “scoffer.”
Proverbs 15:5 says something similar: It says, “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent.” To “despise” something doesn’t necessarily mean that we hate something outwardly. It can simply mean that we don’t value or esteem it. Church, we need to esteem our Heavenly Father’s instruction and readily receive correction. It shows we are wise, because true wisdom knows how much more it has to learn.
Proverbs 19:27 says, “Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” However, if we stop listening to instruction, we will stray from the words of knowledge, and by default, will turn to other things that are “foolish.”
So, yes, there are many references to receiving correction and instruction in Proverbs. Others are: 13:19, 15:10, 15:12, 15:31-32, 21:11, & 22:15.
HOW TO BE THOROUGHLY WISE
But the bottom line is that God’s Word is what offers us all of these opportunities to become wise. And we are “fooling” ourselves if we think that we are going to be a mature, complete and fully equipped Christian without it. In fact, this is exactly what the Apostle Paul went on to say in 2 Timothy 3:17. He said, “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The word “complete” describes something or someone who has come to perfection or you could say maturity. So, how is a child of God going to grow up and become mature? Not apart from the Word of God, we won’t. The Holy Scriptures alone can make us mature.
Not only that, but the Word of God is what will thoroughly equip us for every good work. So, if we want to be completely equipped, totally prepared and thoroughly armed for every good work the Lord has called us to do, then we need God’s Word.
So, saints, I hope you can now see just how important the Bible is to our lives! Without the truth of God’s Word, we cannot be made free. Without the way of God’s Word, we will stray from the way of righteousness. Without the life of God’s Word, we will never reach our full potential. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and Jesus is the Word. Apart from Him and it, we can do nothing. This is the voice of wisdom. Amen.