Bowling Green, Kentucky
The attitude which one has toward the word of God is reflected in his obedience or disobedience. As young people mature, some consider the commandments of the lord as grievous and burdensome impositions on their lifestyle. They consider them as restrictions which are imposed on them by the church and which limit their sources of fun. Generally the young people who have this attitude will decide to indulge themselves in the "pleasures of sin" (Heb. 11:24-25), thus falling from grace.
Long before sin is committed, apostasy begins when one's attitude toward the word of God deteriorates. In the book of Proverbs, the writer instructs us in developing the right attitude toward God and His word. He begins by saying, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. . . " (Prov. 1:7). Those who have a healthy respect for God and His word lay the foundation on which every relationship in life can be built. He who has no fear of the Lord undermines every relationship in his life.
What Wisdom Will Do
The writer of Proverbs describes the right attitude toward and obedience to the word of God. This is called the course of wisdom. What wisdom will do for an individual certainly commends itself to any individual.
1. "Her ways are ways of pleasantness" (Prov. 3:17). The Devil deludes us into thinking that the way to joy and happiness is in sin and indulgence. He entices us saying, "You only go around once in life. Get all the gusto you can." He makes us discontent when we see others indulging themselves in sin; we think that we are missing out on life's pleasures. We need to remember that whatever pleasure sin brings is temporary (Heb. 11:24-25). Lasting joy is found in obedience to the word of God.
2. "All her paths are peace " (Prov. 3:17). The way of disobedience brings sorrow and suffering (Prov. 1:29-33; 2:22; 3:33; 5:22-23; etc.). For examples, see the suffering which follows a life of sexual immorality (venereal disease, AIDS, unwanted pregnancy, shotgun weddings, etc.) and drunkenness (see Prov. 23:29-35). Those who order their lives in obedience to the word of God "shall dwell safely and shall be quiet from fear of evil" (Prov. 1:33).
3. Wisdom will guide and lead us. "When thou goest, it shall lead thee. . . . For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life" (Prov. 6:22-23). In the words of the psalmist, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psa. 119:105). The word of the Lord instructs me in how to conduct myself in the various relationships of life. God my Creator is also God my Guide. He leads and directs me through His word.
4. It gives me safety. "Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely" (Prov. 1:33). he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment and preserveth the way of his saints" (Prov. 2:7-8; cf. 2:11; 3:23-26; 4:6,11-13; 6:22). By walking in God's light, one avoids many pitfalls into which others fall. He protects me from harm and danger by leading me away from the temptations of sin.
5. It gives a long and prosperous life. "For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee" (Prov. 3:2; cf. 2:21; 3:16,18,22; 4:10-13; 8:18,35). One who walks in the commandments of God will avoid the things which shorten one's lifespan (drunkenness, immorality, etc.) and will not waste his substance on riotous living, causing his prosperity to increase. Truly one can enjoy life to its fullest degree by obeying the word of God. Abundant living is a life lived in obedience to God's word, not in a life of sin.
6. It will keep a person from the wicked man and woman. The wicked man seeks to persuade the young man to depart from the paths of righteousness and walk in wickedness (Prov. 2:10-15). The wicked woman attempts to seduce the young man into licentious immorality (Prov. 2:16-19). The word of God warns of the dangers of each course of life, thus keeping those who would hear from these life threatening and soul damning evils.
7. It brings favor from the Lord. "So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man" (Prov. 3:4; cf. Lk. 2:52). "For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord" (Prov. 8:35). Walking in obedience to the will of God brings God's favor. In addition to the temporal blessings of God, eternal life is given to those who persevere in obedience to God.
8. It brings us exaltation and honor. "The wise shall inherit glory. . . . Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou doest embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: and a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee" (Prov. 3:35; 4:8-9). Wisdom will cause a man to be respected and honored.
9. It is an ornament of character. "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck" (Prov. 1:8-9). Even as gold chains about the neck are attractive and enhance the appearance of the one who wears them, so also those who meticulously follow the word of God manifest an ornament of character.
If a man produced a book, training seminar, or television program which guaranteed these results to those who would follow what he said, he would have a number one selling book, make millions from his seminars, or have the most watched television program. Though the word of God promises and does these things for us, many neglect it and reject it. Some even scornfully belittle those who seek to obey it. Men need to learn that God's commandments were revealed to us for our own good (Deut. 6:24; 10: 13). He who rejects God's word brings sorrow and suffering to his own soul (Prov. 8:36; 1: 18-19).
Rejection Of Wisdom Leads To Unavoidable Sorrow
In Proverbs 1:20-33, wisdom calls for men to follow her. Some turn a deaf ear to her, refusing to live in obedience to the word of God (1:24). The life of sin brings calamity, sorrow, and suffering. When these calamities come, the suffering sinner will call on God for help and deliverance. God responded,
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel: they despised all of my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way and be filled with their own devices (Prov. 1:28-31).
Forgiveness of sins is always available to whoever will repent of them and obey the gospel. However, forgiveness of sins does not relieve one from suffering the temporal consequences of his sins. The drunk who has a wreck which paralyzes him and kills someone in another car can repent of his sins, be forgiven, and go to heaven when he dies. Nevertheless, he will live his life paralyzed and might even be sentenced to prison for his crime. All of his crying and pleading to God will not deliver him from the temporal consequences of his sin.
Many young people forget that sin has such horrible, temporal consequences. They resolve to "enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season," thinking that they can repent, be forgiven, and go to heaven when they die. But they forget that sowing their wild oats leads to a harvest which they will regret. God Himself will not deliver a man from reaping the temporal harvest of his sin.
The Accessibility Of Wisdom
One does not have to be of superior intellect to know the right way of life. Wisdom is readily available to even the simple (cf. Prov. 1:4). Far from being out of the reach of the common man, "wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets" (Prov. 1:21). However, men must seek her in order to find her.
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasurers; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:1-6).
Wisdom is readily available to the man who is looking for her. One must simply consult the word of God to find her.
Young people of every generation face the danger of thinking that they know more than their fathers. Consequently, the wise man warned:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes. fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (Prov. 3:5-8).
The word of God must be sought out and exalted above our own uninspired thoughts. God surely knows more than any other what is best for us. Hence, His directions for life should outweigh those given by philosophers, doctors, psychologists, lawyers, or any other of this world's "wise" men. Certainly they should be exalted above the immature ideas of a young man or woman who is inexperienced in life.
Understanding that respect and reverence for God is the foundation- upon which every other relationship in life is built is fundamental. Truly, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. . . " (Prov. 1:7). "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Prov. 4:7).
One should not look upon the commandments of the Lord as heavy burdens to be borne. Rather, they should esteemed as the inspired revelation from God which teaches man how to best live on earth in order to enjoy a peaceful and prosperous life, living life to its fullest. Like the owner's manual which tells how to operate and maintain a machine, the Bible instructs us in how to live life. Its instructions should be carefully followed to avoid heartache and suffering.