The Spheres of Life – Religious

Proverbs 15:1-33

Religion isn’t a dirty word! see James 1:27. It’s important to distinguish between true and false religion; see James 1:26. The one who says “I’m a Christian, I’m not religious” usually giving code for “I want to think of myself as a Christian without doing the things a Christian should” like involvement in and accountability to a local church.

There’s a sense in which domestic, civil, national spheres are subsets of religious sphere; all of life is lived under the watchful eye of God – Prov. 15:3,11; 2 Chron. 16:9 Not to be confused with “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. When Bible speaks of God watching the good, the righteous, he has their well-being in mind; conveys the idea of watchful care, protecting from danger and providing for need.

“But his eyes also behold the good. He sees them in outward destitution. in secret retirement, in deep affliction. He pierces the prison walls. He covers their heads in the day of battle. He is with them in the furnace, and in the tempest. His eye guides them as their journeying God, and will guide them safe home; full of blessing, protection, and support. He fills hell with his severity, heaven with his glory, his people with his grace.” Charles Bridges

Under that watchful eye, God expects us to live lives of service pleasing to him and stands ready to equip us for that service. Only possible when we have a healthy way of life in the religious sphere. Service pleasing to God characterized by:

A. using right speech v.1-7

soft answer – the direct opposite of how we usually and naturally want to respond v.1

see Judg. 8:1-3 contra. Judg. 12:1-4

communicate knowledge rightly – for the building up of the saints v.2

the right things said the right way

Eph. 4:15 “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ”

goal is growth in holiness, Christ-likeness; communication should encourage movement of others toward the goal

giving encouragement – especially to the hurting v.4

using words to raise the spirit, not break it

directed toward those truly downcast – not merely looking for sympathy, to be stroked

see Matt. 12:14-21

spreading the Gospel generously/lavishly v.7

hearts full of God’s love and grace, overwhelmed by the wonder of the Gospel applied to us

will be evident in our speech

Matt. 12:34 …out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Gospel knowledge is most choice/valuable possession

deserves to be broadcast indiscriminately – scatter, disperse, winnow (scattered over great distance)

==> only a sanctified tongue (Col. 4:6 “speech always be with grace”) can accomplish this; in the religious sphere where we find means of grace – “…those institutions which God has ordained to be the ordinary channels of grace, i.e., of the supernatural influences of the Holy Spirit, to the souls of men: …the word, sacraments, and prayer.”Hodge, Systematic

B. cultivating a right heart v.8-15

prayer that is sincere v.8

God promised those would find him who “search for [him] with [their] whole heart” Jer. 29:13

the truly upright is so throughout, not only externally – thoughts, motives, desires consistent with speech and actions

obedience that is genuine v.9

active, persistent, ongoing eager pursuit with the goal of acquisition

general course of life characterized by growth in holy living

that individual is the object of God’s loving favor

a joyful spirit v.13, 15

shows in outward expression

compare Cindy Smith & Lindsay Lohan

continual sorrow of ungodly lifestyle ultimately breaks spirit; resort to substances, etc. for enjoyment

the one who “has peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) is able to enjoy all God has to offer us in this life in anticipation of the next life

teachable v.14

recognizes he doesn’t know everything

ready to learn at every opportunity

never satisfied with present knowledge of God, his works, his ways; always seeking more

==> only a heart of flesh (Ezekiel. 36:26) is like this; it’s in the religious sphere where God works through means to convert and sanctify hearts

C. developing a right mind v.16-23

content with present circumstances v.16-17

rightly ordered priorities

fear of the Lord accompanied by loving atmosphere more valuable than great possessions

way of thinking that goes beyond the immediate, material – extends to spiritual/eternal rewards

understanding personal identity v.18

wrathful – quick-tempered, hot-tempered

profile: undisciplined, governed by passion, not intellect; self-focused, quick to assert “rights” and defend when infringed on; hence, hot-tempered

antidote: remember we are sinners saved by grace

created in God’s image, fallen, redeemed, to be restored – all of God and all of grace and only of grace

diligent worker v.19

Anna L – verbally quiet about faith issues, reputation as a Christian because of exemplary work habits

work hard and well to please God knowing work/vocation is a good gift from him

right thinking about work reflected in quality of work done

proper view of own abilities v.22

recognize finiteness of perspective, knowledge base, experience

not averse to asking for help, counsel (must choose counselors wisely!!)

accident at intersection – 4 corners, 4 witnesses, 4 stories

“God will have every man stand in need of his brother’s direction: that is revealed to some which is hid from others; and many eyes may clearly apprehend that which no one could possibly have pierced into.”Harris

==> only a mind like Christ’s (Phil. 2:5) thinks this way; learning these things, training the mind to think this way begins in the religious sphere

D. taking the right road v.24-33

to the high ground v.24

nearly all the metaphors of Scripture place the things of Godabovethose of earth and Satan

diligent attention to proper spiritual life should draw us closer to God, make us more like him in thought and action

but not high-minded v.25, 33

refer back to “developing a right mind”; that part about personal identity, sinners saved by grace alone

humility – a right estimate of one’s self, gifts and calling

guided by prayer v.29

to sense nearness of God to us personally and corporately, must be regular and fervent in prayer

to rightfully count on his guidance and blessing, must regularly acknowledge dependence on God

==> only steps enlightened by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:13 “And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.” NET) and informed by the Word of God (Ps. 119:1,3,5,9-10…) achieve this

May God grant us grace and wisdom to live rightly in ALL the spheres of life.


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