The Two Paths

Proverbs 4:10-19

Since we are not to acquire wisdom simply for its own sake, God’s intention must be for us to use that wisdom in ways pleasing to him. To encourage his son to follow the upright way, the way of wisdom, the wise man sets before him the two paths: the upright or right-side up way and the perverse or bottom-side up way. With each he shows the blessings or pitfalls which accompany the choice of path.

A. The upright wayvv. 10-13

learn it for more than the testv. 10

repetition and molding until habits are formed

not merely Sunday School (God, Jesus and the Bible) level of understanding

requires use of reason, not simply rote memory

requires instilling principles, not rules

I am twenty-three years old. I was born into a IFB family with all the fixins’. My parents were strongly KJV only; no secular music whatsoever was allowed in our household. We attended church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday. I was in Patch the Pirate Club….

All of my childhood and teenage years were spent observing rules and regulation imposed by my IFB church. I knew nothing of God, but everything about what I “should” be doing. I was strongly KJV only, but I couldn’t defend my reasons behind it. I was strongly against secular music, but probably couldn’t have given reasons why. By the age of nineteen, I realized I had built concrete walls on a foundation of sand. I had no logical reason for any of the convictions I held.

…My parents and my church had raised a child with a delicate egg shell of beliefs; on the outside, the shell looked nice, but if it developed the slightest crack, the whole thing would crumble because there was no support on the interior of that shell.

…I have never been more in love with Christ, more on fire for Him, more wanting to scream my new-found freedom from the rooftops. When I was entrenched in the IFB circle, I was shallow, foundationless, searching, confused, disoriented. I was fully confident in nothing at all. However, by God’s grace, I have now been led into the light of His glorious Gospel, and I thank God for opening up my eyes to the truth.

practice it as a way of lifev. 11

following the model

requires both dialog and action

charades don’t work for communicating principles/abstractions

biblically-based explanation of why particular course of action is pursued

the wise way is not unnecessarily complicatedv. 12

contrast: situational ethics

must decide for each situation how to proceed

often results in constant fear – what if I didn’t…; what if I missed…; what if…

the upright way: “straightforward ways of behaving, morally and practically”Constable

following pre-established principles of godly behavior

Phil. 4:8– the whatevers according to God’s definition

Belief governs behavior; “as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.”Prov. 23:7

easily seen, already set goals

it is the way homev. 13

remember Jesus self-description:John 14:6“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

pursuit of wisdom/following the way of wisdom = pursuit of godliness = pursuit of Christ

genuine desire to please God out of love for him (following the way of wisdom) will be rewardedJohn 15:10

the way to true, eternal lifeJohn 6:66-69

B. The perverse wayvv. 14-19

things lead to thingsv. 14-15

don’t set foot on the path

don’t proceed in the way

don’t travel on it

similar progression toPsalm 1:1-2

don’t play with firevv. 15-17

don’t try to win the world by being like the world

don’t see how close you can come without falling in

climber on Mount St. Helens – seeking photo-op above crater, snow ledge gave way, fell 1500 feet to death

drift will get you eventually

the wise/safe way is to head in the opposite direction

requires knowledge of what the wicked are up to

In whatever place they shall pitch their camp, do not go there; but turn from them, and pass away. v. 15,LXX

it’s the difference between day and nightvv. 18-19

safety vs. danger

certainty vs. uncertainty

keeping to the upright way – increasing light

easier to see what is the right way, avoid traps

pursuit of wisdom results in increased wisdom

also increased understanding of nature of sin

Every sin in order to be absolved was to be confessed. Therefore the soul must be searched and the memory ransacked and the motives probed. As an aid the penitent ran through the seven deadly sins and the Ten Commandments. Luther would repeat a confession and, to be sure of including everything, would review his entire life until the confessor grew weary and exclaimed, “Man, God is not angry with you. You are angry with God. Don’t you know that God commands you to hope?”

This assiduous confessing certainly succeeded in clearing up any major transgressions. The leftovers with which Luther kept trotting in appeared to Staupitz to be only the scruples of a sick soul. “Look here,” said he, “if you expect Christ to forgive you, come in with something to forgive – parricide, blasphemy, adultery instead of all these peccadilloes.”Bainton, Here I Stand

better acquainted with true holiness, more obvious what isn’t holy

should cause pity for the wicked – stumbling in a thick fog

pursuit of evil results in increased darkness, greater confusion

minds are naturally clouded by sin –Rom. 8:7

Because of God’s common grace extended to them, fallen men are able to mount and to follow a logical argument. Otherwise, the Fall could well have had the effect of bringing men to brutish nonreason. But because of sin’s effects on them men now must face the fact that, in spite of the aid from common grace, there are many things hampering them as they construct their sciences: falsehood, unintentional mistakes, lapses in logical reasoning, self-delusion and self-deception, the intrusion of fantasy into the imagination, intentional and unintentional negative influences of other men’s minds upon their’s, physical weaknesses influencing the total human psyche, the disorganized relationships of life, the effect of misinformation and inaccuracies learned from one realm of science upon ideas in other realms, sinful self-interest, the weakening of mental energies, the internal disorganization of life-harmonies, and most importantly their detachment from the ποῦ στῶ, pou stō [base, foundation], found only in the revealed knowledge of God which alone justifies human knowledge and from which alone true human predication may be launched. Any and all of these effects of sin can and do bring men and womenin their search for knowledge to unrecognized and thus unacknowledged ignorance.Reymond, Systematic Theology


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