Proverbs – Week 9 Notes

By March 1, 2020Sermon Notes

Build at River update: Build faith/build community

-Encouraged and happy to say we are schedule to begin Aug 1

-Money given to the project along with money in reserve we can apply…575

-We project full amount of phase 1 by end of construction next Sprint

-Phase 2 start will depend on how/when Lord provides.

It has been 10 months since an update so I’ve asked Eric and Neil to share.

-If you haven’t look on our website and read and watch the video to get some background

I walk on Campus every week…one of the key reasons God put us here is the campus…it’s coming to us…we want to connect with it…in every way we can.

  1. This is General John Sedgwick

Our county was named for him.

He was a popular and well known Major General (2 star) in the Civil war

He was not from KS but was stationed here in the years just before the war.

By all accounts he was a good leader and cared for his men, led in battle well.

He is now mostly forgotten and is largely known only for two counties and two cities (KS and CO) named for him…and also for his ironic last words.

He was trying to muster courage in his men in a key battle in Virginia in 1864.

Some confederate sharpshooters were taking shots at his men from 1000 yards away(good distance at that time)…his men where ducking for cover as the shots rang out.

He exhorted his men just before he was shot to death with these words… “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

That’s that interesting bit of irony…but to the general’s credit…he was trying to get his men prepared for battle.

War is dangerous business and it cannot be won by ducking and hiding…but the general suffered from unwarranted confidence gained by his own past experience in battle…it’s sometimes called the “Leadership Fallacy”

The Leadership Fallacy is where a leader has had many years of success in trusting his or her own experience and instincts.

The leader has been right over and over with good results…and because of this develops an unrealistic confidence in self.

Then, often in disastrous fashion…the leader’s experience/intuition fails them.

Success did not breed wisdom but arrogance…and arrogance lack of caution…and lack of caution…disaster.

Lots of modern examples of this…like General Petraeus and others.

In Proverbs chapters 5,6,7 the Father is giving the son a strong set of warnings about a key human battle…moral purity.

Specifically, the dangers of adultery (breaking marriage vows).

Unlike General Sedgwick…the father is not encouraging the young son with… “Don’t worry, you won’t be shot.”

He is telling the young man…you better watch yourself…constantly…you can be shot and you may very well die, or lose everything that matters to you…so “duck, run for cover”

With the number of Proverbs dedicated to this topic we would do well to pay close attention to the severity of the warning being given.

Sexual immorality has long been ruining lives…these Proverbs were written thousands of years before Harvey Weinstein was on trial or Jeffery Epstein committed suicide in a jail cell, both ruined by sexual sin…men and women have long been coming to ruin because they thought… “This won’t get me.”

I have seen friends act casually about this…and I have seen them fall prey to “snipers.”

If you have engaged in sexual immorality in the past…and have suffered for it…remember the gospel.

-There is forgiveness that is full and free

-It will not reverse all the consequences in this life…but God is not finished with you…and he stands ready to forgive and to use you with purpose.

If you are currently engaged in sexual immorality…you need to be very afraid.

-Culture around you can be like General Sedgwick… Plenty of voices telling you…“No worries, you won’t be shot.”

-Meanwhile all-around people are being mortally wounded by this…you will be as well, if you do not turn away from trying to outsmart God in this area.

Prov. 3:5,6 “Don’t lean on your own understanding”…you will not outsmart God.

Let me tell how we are going to approach this topic today…it will be a bit different than what we usually do.

PLAN:

  1. I’m going to first give some principles for interpreting Proverbs chapter 5 (and parts of 6,7 as well)
  2. Then I’m going to read all of Proverbs 5…with those principles in mind as I read.

-Often, we would read then discuss principles…but today I’m reversing the order

  1. Then we are going to work through some practical applications of Proverbs 5 using CS Lewis’ book, the Screwtape Letters, to help make those applications.

PRINCIPLES

  1. These chapters are addressed to a “Young man”

*He is not a “fool” he is just young(not fully formed)…and he is being warned away from becoming a fool.

*This book is part of God’s word for all of us…so we can put ourselves in principle in the role of the young man.

-So, if you are a woman, how does it apply to you?

-In the passages of Proverbs an immoral woman is on the prowl for the young man, just reverse that if you are female.

-If you are not being tempted sexually right now…there are theological principles in play that apply to you…we will address them shortly.

  1. Proverbs are not laws but some speak to universal truths.

*We have said many times Proverbs are general descriptions of how life works.

-For instance: No guarantee your kids will turn out good if you raise them well, they have a choice

*However, when what is being outlined in Proverbs is clearly defined in both the OT law and the NT…like here…we are dealing with absolute overriding principles of life.

  1. There are strong warnings against the dangers of adultery and immorality…but pay attention to the equally strong encouragement to the blessings of how God has designed life to work: Marriage is good, sex in marriage is good.

-God is against stuff because of what he is for-

**So, there is some “duck” “don’t get shot” here…but it’s not all “defense”…there is plenty of offense…plenty of what God is for not just against.

*He is not a cosmic killjoy…he is the inventor, source of joy.

*He is against adultery, immorality…because he is for life at its best…and he knows what that is, he designed the world.

*I have said it before…but the irony never ceases to amaze me…studies continue to show that the people having the most frequent and enjoyable sex are in long-term, monogamous relationships with someone of the opposite sex…just like God’s design as outlined in Scripture…unlike what media is presenting as fact.

*People can rage against what the Bible says about this and they do…but what we feel about how the world is designed does not in fact change that design.

-You can hate gravity or you can love it…but you will, in in the end, live within it…likewise the truth of God.

  1. God is no prude and the Bible is a grown-up book

*Now the words used to describe sex here are poetic…but they are explicit.

*When we get to verses 15-20 for instance, pay attention…the phrases used are describing sexual activity…very clearly.

Remember God invented Sex…he thinks it’s a good idea, but since he invented it…he knows how it really works.

*Some ancient (and modern) cults saw the physical world as evil and only that which is “spiritual” is good…I mentioned one of these before, the Essenes.

-For these groups…Sex was bad because it is physical…obviously this didn’t create a multi-generational ministry.

*The Bible is clearly opposed to this…God made the physical world and said it is “good”

*God designed sex as the way for procreation and marital closeness and human enjoyment.

*Like fire…which is good in a proper context…fire can heat a house or burn it down…depends on how it is used…so sex is good in its design context.

  1. Again, notice the importance of the topic of sexuality and the need to get it right (not lean on own understanding)

*What are thought to “Modern views” regarding homosexuality, as well as heterosexual sex…are quite ancient.

*To present the Bible as outdated and something humans have evolved beyond has been put forth as a worldview for hundreds of years…there is nothing modern at all about these views.

*Both what culture says and what the Bible says about sexuality…are both really quite ancient views.

*WE often suffer from what has been called “chronological snobbery”…no one in any time past has been as smart, as wise, as “modern”, as “woke”, as “fill in the blank” as we are.

*People of every time have thought themselves to be the wisest/wokest of all time.

*Again…you can like gravity or hate gravity…but all will submit to it.

-Likewise, “We can believe we will outsmart God…but we will in fact either submit to him and enjoy our lives, or rebel against him and fail to enjoy life.”

  1. Notice that in Scripture the brain/mind is the primary sexual organ

*The adulteress’ lips “drip honey” her speech is “smooth”…she is going for the heart through the ears.

*Heart is the command post…the thinking, choosing you.

-In the end, though she promises honey…she is “wormwood”….bitter, poisonous plant.

If you read chapter 5,6,7…pay attention to the heart being the target.

When I was a young man one of my HS coaches…I man who had been impactful in my life

-Left his wife and young son for a woman who was clearly not as nice, as a balanced or even as beautiful as his own wife…I knew both women.

-This made no sense to me when I was 19…now I know, the heart is deceptive…this man fell (and it cost his whole family) because he did not guard his heart.

*My point here is really the point of last week’s message…we talked about the priority of the heart as the command post of wisdom for our lives.

*Folly attacks there first…take out the command post, the battle is won.

*Often folly attacks through “flattery” (my coach)…or sympathy…of some foolish thought pattern…where we think mostly of self.

*Wisdom calls for us to actually do the “math” on life…

“What a minute this is a lie, it can’t possible deliver what it is promising…in fact it will deliver the opposite.”

Remember Martin Luther’s brilliant saying “You can’t keep crows from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

Sure, lies are flying around you all the time…but you have a say in what you allow to shape you from the inside out.

You get to decide what thoughts, beliefs…stay and what goes.

“Take thoughts captive to Christ” Paul said.

Thoughts often come to us first in sounds, images…and become heart shaping thoughts.

  1. Proverbs is a part of the Word of God as a whole…and in the NT marriage is not for everyone, but marriage is precious and to be protected at all costs

Jesus was not married; Paul was not married.

I assure you, Jesus, was a completely fulfilled human being.

Marriage is not the Biblical “ideal” for everyone…faithfulness to Christ is.

However, most people will end up married in our culture and all people are to only engage in sexual relations only within the boundaries a covenant commitment man/woman marriage relationship

If you do not marry, you will not miss God’s best for you.

This is true for everyone…with every kind of attraction…marriage and sexual relationships…are not essential for God’s best…faithfulness is.

If you try to live life outside God’s boundaries (for instance in sexual relationships)…you will certainly miss God’s best for you.

*Think about it…how many people are pursuing sex and even marriage as “fixes” for their lives and are finding they “don’t work”

*I could tell story after story…including one from this past week to illustrate this.

*But everyone who has really, consistently “tasted and seen that the Lord is good”…has been satisfied.

  1. In NT Christ is the groom, The church is the bride…marriage is ultimately a picture of committed relationship between us and Christ.

“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each of you must also love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband”. Ep. 5:31-33

 So, marriage between a man and woman point to the covenant relationship between Christ and his people.

However…Paul says… “In practice, don’t over spiritualize this…guys lay down your lives for your wives (right there, today, like that) and ladies…respect your husbands in real and practical ways (yes, right there, like that)

So, marriage points to an eternal, spiritual reality…but meanwhile…it is a profound opportunity to experience Christ and demonstrate his love in day to day ways.

  1. Marriage as we now experience it is a temporary construct

One time some folks who didn’t believe in a future resurrection tried to trip Jesus up with a trick question…they gave him the very unlikely scenario of woman who married 7 brothers in row…and each one died.

As I said before…at least by brother number 3 they would be running for their lives from this woman.

But at any rate, they think they are brilliant by asking… “Okay, she had 7 husbands all dead, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be?”

34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage

**Okay…with those principles, background facts in place…let me read Proverbs 5

PASSAGE:

5 My son, be attentive to my wisdom;

incline your ear to my understanding,

2 that you may keep discretion,

and your lips may guard knowledge.

3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,

and her speech is smoother than oil,

4 but in the end, she is bitter as wormwood,

sharp as a two-edged sword.

5 Her feet go down to death;

her steps follow the path to Sheol;

6 she does not ponder the path of life;

her ways wander, and she does not know it.

7 And now, O sons, listen to me,

and do not depart from the words of my mouth.

8 Keep your way far from her,

and do not go near the door of her house,

9 lest you give your honor to others

and your years to the merciless,

10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,

and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,

11 and at the end of your life you groan,

when your flesh and body are consumed,

12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,

and my heart despised reproof!

13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers

or incline my ear to my instructors.

14 I am at the brink of utter ruin

in the assembled congregation.”

15 Drink water from your own cistern,

flowing water from your own well.

16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,

streams of water in the streets?

17 Let them be for yourself alone,

and not for strangers with you.

18 Let your fountain be blessed,

and rejoice in the wife of your youth,

19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;

be intoxicated always in her love.

20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman

and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?

21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,

and he ponders all his paths.

22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,

and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.

23 He dies for lack of discipline,

and because of his great folly he is led astray.

*There many ways of making applications from this chapter (and 6,7) but I want use CS Lewis’ method of illustration and persuasion from his book the “Screwtape Letters”

PRACTICE:

In the book the author is said to have come into the possession of some letters from a senior level demon named “Screwtape” written to a younger protegee demon named “Wormwood”

Wormwood is appropriate for today because as we saw, the adulteress (or adulterer) promises sweetness but only delivers the bitterness of “wormwood”.

When Lewis wrote the book, he said it came easier than any book he had written but brought him the least amount of pleasure to write.

This is because he had to get into the “mind of the enemy”.

He said “But though it was easy to twist one’s mind into the diabolical attitude, it was not fun, not for long. The strain produced a sort of spiritual cramp. The world into which I had to project myself while I spoke through Screwtape was all dust, grit, thirst and itch. Every trace of beauty, freshness and geniality had to be excluded. It almost smothered me before it was done.”

Why do it then?

We won the important battle of Midway in WWII largely because we got into minds of the enemy…we knew their strategy and so we defeated them.

The book is not like some demonic movies or horror books that glorify evil and death…it exposes the enemy through “intel” as to how Satan operates in the human mind…the world of thoughts.

How he infiltrates into the command post…we want to be aware.

So, I want to use one reoccurring theme from the book that accurately describes a theme in overall human experience that is often the pathway of folly(particularly immorality).

Screwtape calls it the “Horror of the Same Old Thing”

“The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—it is an endless source of heresies in religions, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconsistency in friendship.”

The demon goes on to explain what this “horror of the Same Old Thing” looks like.

“Humans experience life in time and therefore God has made them to embrace change.”

“But” writes Screwtape “he doesn’t want them want to make change an end in itself so he has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence…He balances these loves by what we call Rhythm.”

“He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always the reoccurrence of a theme.”

“So even as we pick out and exaggerate the pleasure of eating to produce gluttony, so we pick out this natural pleasantness of change and twist it into a demand for absolute novelty.”

*Side note: So, for instance the husband who instead of working hard to make his marriage creative and new…begins to think of a new marriage.

*Or the wife who has become bored with the sameness of her marriage…fantasizes about some other person’s life…rather than recovering freshness for what God has for her to experience today.

Screwtape goes on…“This(demand for absolute novelty) is valuable in various ways. First it diminishes pleasure while increasing desire (emptiness). The pleasure of novelty is more subject that any other to the law of diminishing returns (takes more and more to feel less and less satisfied)…the greater the desire (demand for novelty, the new) the sooner it eats up all the innocent sources of pleasure and goes on to those that the Enemy forbids.”

This describes the human heart that has forgotten to worship…to be grateful…to embrace contentment…it has become a rogue heart…forever thirsty, new satisfied.

Worship brings wisdom.

Wisdom brings contentment, we delight in more and more…we find pleasure in what God has given…this is the well-formed heart…it is the path of wisdom.

Folly is forever discontent with what God has for us.

*I spent time with a young man last summer who was in a Juvenile detention center

-He spent his days in a cell, longing for freedom…to live like other students.

-This last fall and until recently…he experienced freedom…a home, a school, meals out, social outings…but very quickly the “Terror of the Same Old Thing” set in.

-His young heart has been formed in folly…

-He traded contentment for folly…I even warned him that it would come…don’t give in.

-Now…he is locked up again…staring at a cell wall again.

The grasping for illegitimate freedoms leads to the loss of all real freedom.

*You may end up in literal cell…but all who try to grab freedom apart from the freedoms of faithfulness to God…lose freedom…find bondage of various forms.

This is what these Proverbs are saying… “listen…enjoy the freedoms of God, do not chase the dark freedoms, they are not freedom at all…you drink them and are left more and more thirsty.”

We can…however, become people who increasingly find contentment in more and more not less and less…we can delight in God and all he has done and that he is…listen to what Screwtape says about this…

“The horror of the Same Old Thing…is a great tool….however, if we neglect our duty in this, humans will become both contented and amazed at the novelty and familiarity of snowflakes this January, sunrise this morning, plum pudding this Christmas.”

What a beautiful possibility…to move away from perpetual thirst and discontent and bitterness and cynicism…towards the wonder of a child.

*We can move consistently on to the path of being continually content and amazed…at the life as God gives it.

In the Scriptures it is said that “God’s mercies are new every morning”…they are same and they are brand new each day.

We sing, “Summer and winter, spring time and harvest, sun moon and stars in their courses of above, join with all nature in manifold witness of thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

And we are told to rejoice, give thanks, to keep taking Communion to remember the gospel, remind each other of these things…all sorts of ways to fend off this “horror of the same old thing”

To be people…who say “Wow, it’s snowing…and wow, its spring”…and take to comfort in the permanence of God and what he brings…and to delight in the change, the ever newness of it.

Screwtape talked about how human relationships with God and one another often have cycles or undulations(like waves)…he calls the times when we are not spiritually “high” trough periods.

“I have always found the trough periods of human undulation provide excellent opportunity for all sensual temptation, especially sexual…the attack has a much better chance of success when the man’s whole inner world is drab and cold and empty.”

When we don’t feel God, or feel emotional love for someone, or a sense of purpose…when it is all choice and no “buzz” same old same old.

We are vulnerable to temptation to fall into the “horror of the Same Old Thing”…and to go chasing something apart from God and what he offers us…to bring us life…it has never worked.

What about the down times…how is God to glorified then…listen to what Screwtape wrote:

“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

The down times, do not last though they seem like they might…turn your focus to the simple “good” God has placed in your life.

Listen to Screwtape again.

“Never forget that when are dealing with pleasure in any of its healthy and normal and satisfying forms, we are in a sense on the Enemy’s ground. We have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made all the pleasures: all our research so far has enabled us to do is to encourage humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden.”

Okay…we see how the battle for the heart/mind is waged…we see this “Terror of the Same Old Thing”

And we have touched on the solution…

Worship (not just as singing) but as submission, as gratitude, as love for God and others…as daily choices to embrace the life God has for you.

To find contentment in your work, in your meals, in your commute, in your time with family…in your singleness or in your marriage.

Paul said it succinctly like this…

“Be joyful always; Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18

Walk the wise path…external choices, internal orientation…walk into increasing good.

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