Category Archives: Temptation

Killing Me Softly

Proverbs 16:29

“A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.”

The past few verses have been about the person who causes trouble. Whether it is by creating the trouble, stirring the trouble, or capitalizing on the trouble.

That is essentially what this verse continues saying, even taking another step further.

In verse 27 we learn that the ungodly person can not wait to start problems. In verse 28 we learn that this person even lets these problems come between friends.

Specifically, in verse 28 we begin to see how sneaky the violence in our hearts can be, because “a whisperer separateth chief (best) friends.”

God speaks in a still, small voice (a whisper). It would seem that Satan does, as well.

Loves Company

Perhaps you have heard the term “Misery/Evil loves company.” This is just saying that sad people like having other sad people around to commiserate with them. Likewise, evil people only want other evil people around them (because good people remind them of their guilt).

Verse 29 shows us that those whispers may not separate friends (at least immediately).

In fact, the one who allows violence of the heart (hatred, wanting to hurt others/animals, envy, distrust, paranoia, etc.) to thrive inside will attempt to convince their friends to follow them. They will speak convincing words and attempt to sway you of their rightness (self-righteousness).

If you follow them into this violence of the heart, you will become just like them. You will live out this violence.

You will gradually fall away from God’s truth, because God is the God of love and peace. As Casting Crowns put it, “It’s a slow fade.”

It is as though your friends whisper death into your ears, and you slowly die inside as you listen to their whispers.

You may not go to hell, but you will be guilty of hindering the work of God in your life and the life of your friends.

God of Peace, do not let us give in to the violence in our hearts. Protect our ears and our hearts from the whispers of those who would lead us astray.


Run Forest, Run!

Proverbs 16:17

“The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.”

In Genesis 39, we read these verses: (Genesis 39:6-12)

So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.
Did you catch that very last phrase? That last phrase is a beautiful picture of Proverbs 16:17!

Joseph was a righteous man, or an upright man, and he knew when he was close to danger. The advancements of Potiphar’s wife were a red flag to this fully committed follower of Jesus and he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he needed to be far away from this situation. So he departed from the evil so that his soul would be preserved.

I love the way the ESV reads  – “The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.”

I Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

We must always be on guard as to where evil may be. We can not assume, at any point, that we are not targets of the devil and his band of demons. We must always be prepared and ready to fight. This is a great reason to always have on the Armor of God!

So, as Christians, what are we to do when evil comes our way? Let’s all says it together…”RUN FOREST, RUN!”

The Cost of Bribes

Proverbs 15:27

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.” 

“A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.” – NIV

Same Script

Have you ever noticed how most crime dramas on television are the same, at least in the writing department? When we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is “no new thing under the sun,” it especially applies to television and movie plots.

One reason that it is hard to come up with anything new is because men keep doing the same things over and over again. The stories are all so similar in pattern because the template is ingrained in man’s fallen nature. He keeps falling for the same old tricks every time, like fish that never question a swimming worm.

One common story line involves a man who needs money, takes a bribe, gets caught, then brings his family to ruin. It varies, of course, but whether it’s a politician who takes a bribe in order to keep his career afloat, or a discouraged policeman who deals confiscated drugs in order to take care of his sick children, the end is always the same – trouble.

Doing What’s Right

It is not always easy to turn down easy money. Sometimes the offer can seem pretty tempting. Several years ago my wife and I were asked to hire undocumented workers in order to keep down the costs of a cleaning contract. We were told over and over, “They work hard for little money…everyone does it…no one will find out.” We could have saved thousands of dollars in labor costs.

Doing what is right, however, is more important than money. Greed is the downfall of many. What would have happened my wife’s company had been visited by federal agents? How many lies would she have been responsible for when she filed payroll taxes? What would have happened to our family of one of us had been sent to jail?

Even when times are at their worst, doing wrong, taking a bribe, doing it for the money, is never good for one’s home. Somebody down the line will pay for poor choices made.


Red Means STOP

Proverbs 15:21 

Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course. (NIV)

Lack of Judgement

Teenage boys are not generally known for their wisdom. This is particularly the case in our home where my thirteen-year old son John derives considerable pleasure and joy from annoying his sixteen-year old sister. Unfortunately for John his sister is not only older, she is also bigger and stronger than him. That may change in the next year or so, but at the moment John is unable to defend himself against the physical response his lack of judgement incurs when he embarks on each mission to see how far he can push his sister.

Heed the Warning

Unfortunately folly is a contagious disease that anyone can catch. I see folly most mornings while negotiating a junction controlled by traffic lights. Inevitably there Description=19th September 2006. Pic: Paul Rogers A traffic signal showing red.are drivers who believe that they can drive through their red light when mine is green. It isn’t rocket science. Red means stop, and needs to be heeded just like any other warning, be it a road sign, a parental instruction, a safety measure linked to mechanical or electrical equipment, or anything else.

Follow the Instructions

Walking uprightly or keeping a straight course means taking note of warnings, being alert to danger, and avoiding risk. To avoid risk we need to understand risk and the consequences of failure. For followers of Jesus that means trying to avoid temptation. Most of us know our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. If we don’t, then we should. And then we should follow the instructions for walking uprightly given to us in Scripture.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:1-18 (NIV)


The Thinker

Proverbs 14:16

“A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.”

Warnings

As has been said many times on Proverbial Thought, the book of Proverbs is a book of warnings. Solomon, the wisest man to have ever lived, has penned warning after warning to help guide and direct us in the our lives.

The ThinkerThe Thinker

One of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures is The Thinker, a piece originally conceived to be part of another work. The Thinker was part of a commission by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris to sculpt a monumental door based on The Divine Comedy of Dante. Each of the statues in the piece represented one of the main characters in the epic poem.

Wikipedia describes the statue of The Thinker as the following:

“It depicts a man in sober meditation battling with a powerful internal struggle.”

Today’s verse reminds me of this statue. Here is why, and please stay with me. The name God is never mentioned in this verse. I thought of this statue because I believe that this verse is saying that a wise man is one who thinks before he encounters evil and is afraid of the consequences of his actions and therefore departs, or gets away from evil.

On the other hand, a person who does not think at all of the consequences just plows ahead no matter what it may cost him. He exemplifies the old saying: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” The ESV says our verse this way, “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.”

Count the Cost

When faced with evil, do you jump in with both feet before even thinking about what it may cost you? Or are you like the wise man, and ponder what would happen if you gave into the evil.

Solomon is telling us that we would be very wise to “think before we act”!

Next time you are faced with evil, stop and think about that it may cost you! Sin breaks our fellowship with God and when we really stop and think about what the results from that would cost us, I think you would agree with me that we would gladly depart from evil.

Lord, I pray that we would stop and think! In times of temptation and trials, help us to be cautious and turn from evil and back to you. I thank you for your grace and forgiveness for those times when I don’t think and plunder recklessly into evil. Thank you for your loving mercy toward me!


Alluring Snares

Proverbs 13:14

“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”

Snares

Let’s talk about “snares” for a moment. What is a snare? A snare is a trap meant to catch and hold prey. A snare is something set by a hunter. The following description is posted on the Encyclopedia Brittanica’s animal advocacy page. (Link)

Killing animals with snares and traps is an appallingly cruel way of slaughter. The caught animals do not die instantly… it often takes days for the victims to slowly die of dehydration, starvation or strangulation. Although some animals manage to free themselves of these death traps, they are then crippled and unable to fend for themselves, again left to die slowly.

Any animal can get caught in these snares, including the young, the healthy and the pregnant — snares kill indiscriminately!

A snare is something that is set for a purpose; it is intentional. Snares of old were usually things like nooses made of rope, or pits dug and covered over to look like solid ground. Snares don’t happen on their own, but are set in order to catch a specific animal.

Lures

Snares are not very effective, however, when there are no lures attached. In order for a snare to catch something, that “something” must see a reason to justify stepping into the trap. Therefore, a snare is usually baited with something the prey would really like to have, like food.

But not all snares are baited with food. Some snares are baited with other desirous items like money, fame, sex, and shiny gadgets.

On the other hand, the most dangerous snares are those which are placed in an already determined path. They need no bait. All they need is a traveler not paying attention.

Laws and Teaching

Today’s proverbs says that the teaching of the wise is a regular source of life, helping us avoid inevitable traps meant to take our lives. What are some examples?

The Teaching: “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” – Proverbs 5:18 NLT

The Lure: “Life is short. Have an affair.” – Ashley Madison (.com)

The Snare: Betrayal. Broken marriage and home. Guilt and regret.

The Teaching: “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” – James 3:5 NIV

 The Lure: Debates on Facebook; Twitter Rants.

The Snare: Rash words you can never take back. Hurt feelings. Ruined friendships.

 The Teaching: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…[but]store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 NIV

The Lure: Early retirement; Investment schemes; Real estate; Travel; etc.

The Snare: A life wasted on material gain. Unfunded ministries. No treasure in heaven.

The Teaching:  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” – Galatians 6:7 KJV

The Lure: “Stealth mode” on your computer.

The Snare: Shame. Addiction. Warped sense of love. Lying. Wanting more.

The Hunter

Make no mistake about it, there is a hunter on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8). He is all about setting traps. The lures he uses are getting more sophisticated every day.

And this hunter doesn’t care who he kills, or how much they suffer. For that matter, the more they suffer, the better.

But the “law of the wise” will keep you from falling into those traps. The “snares of death” are easily spotted and avoided when we obey the teaching of God’s Word.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” – Matthew 6:13 KJV


An Honest Salesman?

Proverbs 12:5

“The thoughts of the righteous [are] right: [but] the counsels of the wicked [are] deceit.”

It is not often that I choose to quote another author, but I found the following words instructive.

The plans of the righteous are right.” His designs are well-intentioned and morally sound because the mind of the righteous man is disciplined by wisdom. On the other hand, “the counsels of the wicked are deceit.” Their warped minds invent crooked methods for reaching their goals. To them the end always justifies the means.”*

The Ends

Do you ever stop to think about the “ends?” In other words, do you ever stop to think about the results of your actions, or your thoughts? Do you plan ahead? Do you think about consequences?

The “thoughts of the righteous are right” because the righteous have right hearts. And because of their righteous thoughts, the means to an end matter just as much as the result. They want to do what is right, because it is right.

On the other hand, the wicked think only of self-gratifying goals. As the above quote says, “To them the end always justifies the means.” Because of an unwise, wicked heart, what is right does not matter, only the desired result.

The Means

I have known many salesmen over the years. As a matter of fact, I was actually a pretty successful salesman at one time. But if there was anything that characterized the average salesman, it was the desire to make a sale, to “close the deal,” even if his “counsel” was a little deceitful.

The problem with many salespeople is that they will tell you whatever you want to hear, even things you don’t, in order to sell a product or service. What the customer needs or can afford is rarely a consideration when sales bonuses and large paychecks are at stake. As long as a dollar can be made, it is thought “the end justifies the means.”

So how do you know when you have met a “righteous” salesman? You will know him when he won’t sell you something, even when you think you want it. Happily, I can say that there were times I did just that, even when the rent was due. Taking advantage of customer was wrong, and even though I might have needed the money, the end didn’t justify the means.

Believe it or not, there are some honest salespeople out there. However, there are also a lot of deceitful customers, too. Just saying.

A Prayer

Dear Lord, give us a righteous heart that thinks right things. Keep us from wicked and deceitful thoughts. Give us a heart for others over the needs of self. Reprove us, Jesus, when we are tempted to deceive, for what waits in the end is anything but gain.

 


*James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Pr 12:2–7.


Stupid On Purpose

Proverbs 12:1

“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”

Instruction

We see over and over again in the book of Proverbs how Solomon is giving us instructions on how we should live our lives. He deals with different topics from money to adultery, from the fear of the Lord to temptation, from pride and humility to the wicked that are in the world. Each time he discusses a topic, he gives us instructions on how we need to handle each situation.

Instructions are very important. Instructions will guide us and help us to complete the task that is set before us. The Bible is our instruction manual and will guide us with ever step we take.

BUT…we must be willing to heed the Word of God and the instructions it gives. If we are to be more and more like Christ, then we must follow the instructions that are given to us in God’s Word.

Reproof

Dictionary.com defines the word reproof as, “An expression of censure or rebuke”. II Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”. This is what the Bible is here for – to keep us on the right path (Psalm 119:105).

How we accept instructions from God and receive reproof for the things we have done wrong, says a lot about a person. Dr. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way, “How we receive reproof and counsel is a test of our relationship to the Lord and our willingness to live by His Word.” (1)

We can see from past “Proverbial Thoughts”, that wise men love reproof – Proverbs 9:8 | Proverbs 9:9. Reproof by God’s Word helps us to stay focused on Him and to accomplish His will for our lives. Reproof helps the godly to mature in Christ.

Don’t Be Stupid

No one wants to be stupid (or at least not be stupid on purpose). But there are many people today that are living a life that is, well,  stupid. Why? Because they are not willing to take instructions or rebuke from God’s Word. The New Living Translation says our verse this way, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.”

When we are not willing to listen to the wisdom of God and apply it to our own lives, we are actually saying that we know better than God on how we need to run our lives. We are pretty much telling Him to not worry about anything – that we have everything under control – and we don’t need Him! How stupid is that?

We must be willing to let God mold us and make us into what He wants us to be. Without His instructions (God’s Word), there is no way we will ever be able to be more like Him.

God, help us to love your instructions and have a willingness to heed Your words. Help us not to hate it when you rebuke us when we have done wrong against You. Help us to be godly men and women who seek your face and want to be more and more like You. 

Reference:

(1) Dr. Warren Wiersbe – (The Wiersbe Bible Commentary – page 539)


Warning Signs

Proverbs 11:19
As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.

Multiple Warnings

As a child, one of the things that I learned very quickly was that if my parents told me “To Do” or “Not To Do” something over and over again, I knew that it must be important, and I either better do it or not do it. In the same way as my parents, Solomon is giving us multiple warnings about which path we should choose – righteousness or evil. Here are just a few of the examples:

  • Proverbs 10:6 – “Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”
  • Proverbs 12:2 – “A good man obtaineth favour of the Lord: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn”
  • Proverbs 14:11 – “The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.”

The warnings are out there and we must heed them with all our heart!

It’s Our Choice

Even if we can clearly see the warning signs that are out there, it is still our choice to live a righteous life or to “pursue evil”. We can see in this verse that “he” made a choice to go after evil. The word “pursue” has several meanings:

  1. To follow in order to catch or attack
  2. Seek to attain or accomplish
  3. Continue or proceed along a path
  4. Engage in

In each one of these definitions there is one constant – there is a choice that must be made! We must make the choice daily to run in the opposite direction of sin and run into the arms of a loving and gracious God. We need to remember the words of James 1:15 that says, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” If we continue down the path toward evil, it will eventually lead us to death!

The warning signs are all around us, but it is still up to us to make the right choice as to which path our lives will lead. Will we take the path of righteousness or will we pursue evil? I hope each one of us can live out the words that Joshua said in Joshua 24:15,

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Lord, help us to pursue YOU with all our heart! No matter what may come our way, help us to choose YOU! Help us to stand firm on our Word and make you our refuge until that glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior!


Expect Danger

 Proverbs 9:18

“But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.”

The Monsters are Out

Believe it or not, (as of this writing) October 31st is still over three months away, but Halloween merchandise is already on the shelves. Unbelievable.

Just yesterday my wife and girls and I dined at a local restaurant called Cracker Barrel. As soon as we walked in the door the first thing that caught my eye was a plate covered in eye balls. How disgusting! Now, for the next three months any time I go for breakfast, lunch, or supper, I can count on being welcomed by witches, monsters, spiders, black cats, and dismembered body parts. Well, at least I will know what to expect.

Knowing What to Expect

Speaking of knowing what to expect, have you ever watched a scary movie? Why is it that some people can go to a movie that clearly promises slimy creatures will leap off the 3-D screen into their lap, only to scream bloody murder when it happens? Didn’t they know it was going to happen?

And what about the typical victims in horror films? Have they never seen a monster movie? As movie-goers, we know what to expect, so why don’t the actors?  In every movie there is always someone who is stupid enough to ask for a cup of sugar from the shadowy neighbor in the dark, bat-infested mansion.

Here’s a suggestion: the next time you hear a strange noise in your house, don’t pick up a shoe and walk blindly into the dark saying, “Is anyone there?” Of course someone’s there! Would you expect the monster in the dark to respond by saying, “Yes, I am here…hiding in the corner on your left…waiting to attack you?”

When you hear a bump in the night, don’t assume it is Santa Claus coming early – expect danger!

Unaware of the Danger

But here’s this poor, naive traveler who, like a fool, is falling prey to temptation. What is he thinking? Doesn’t he know what lies waiting for him just inside the door? Evidently not.

Unlike a house that looks like it should be on the cover of Dracula’s Home and Mortuaries, Miss Folly’s crypt could pass for Cinderella’s castle, or at least Aunt Bea’s house on The Andy Griffith Show. In order to draw the naive traveler from the “right way,” the house of the temptress will usually appear completely innocent, much like a Venus Flytrap does to a fly.

But unaware of the danger; unaware that just inside are the remains of many men; unaware that some are languishing in torment just beneath the floor;  the traveler can think of nothing but the promise of pleasure. He doesn’t know what to expect, but he should. That’s why Solomon wrote this chapter.

A Prayer

Dear God, open our eyes to the wiles of the Devil! Help us warn the naive travelers down as they try to travel down the “right way.” Then protect us, Heavenly Spirit, from the veiled and alluring traps set before us. As we travel through the valley of the shadow of death, may your rod and staff keep us on the right path.