This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on February 15th, 2004. There is no audio available for this sermon.
PROVERBS 2 — SEARCH FOR WISDOM WITH ALL YOUR HEART
IF WE WILL SEARCH FOR WISDOM…
Accept, Store Up, Turn Your Ear to Wisdom: “If you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom…” The images here are about turning to wisdom – giving it our attention – listening intently and expectantly – and treasuring. We are being called to do more than just read through these words of wisdom – we are being called to interact with them. This involves slowing down and considering the instruction of Proverbs verse by verse – in each case searching out its application to our lives. To turn one’s ear to instruction is to consider the instruction of the Proverbs expectantly, in faith, believing that they describe the condition of our hearts and that God has something to say to us through them.
The sermons should not tell you all you need to know – they should be a guide to understanding – a starting point, enabling us to listen well and to hear God speak.
Apply: “…and applying your heart to understanding”. Note that we are not called to apply our “minds” to understanding, but rather our “hearts”. What does it mean to apply our hearts to understanding? It means that we are to examine our hearts in the light of the Proverbs. Proverbs does more than outline wise vs. unwise behavior – it exposes the foolish desires and stubbornness of the heart – it shows us what the heart is supposed to desire and love. This should lead us to the conviction of our need to be changed in our hearts – to love wisdom and to hate what is empty and foolish and destructive.
We are to consider the Proverbs in faith that they describe our hearts and so seek to confront the motivations of our hearts with them.
Search and Cry Out: “If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure…” Conviction should lead to the desire and pursuit of repentance. It is one thing to understand how the proverbs speak to our lives –yet another to come to conviction of our need to be changed. Yet if wisdom does not lead to the pursuit of wise living, it is dead fruit.
Pursuit for wisdom is to be passionate. Just as we saw last week Wisdom crying aloud in the streets and calling aloud in the public places – so here the same words are used to describe what the pursuit of wisdom should look like. We should be passionate.
Notice how these build on one another. We cannot be passionate without conviction of the heart – we cannot come to conviction simply by reading. We must slow down and read carefully and turn our ear expectantly to hear and listen to wisdom.
…THEN GOD WILL GIVE US THE BLESSINGS OF WISDOM…
Then We Will Find the Fear of the Lord: “Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Remember that the Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom – reverence. One does not simply wake up one day and decide to live reverently. We learn reverence through this process of listening expectantly to God – being confronted by his word and pursuing wisdom and repentance passionately.
Wisdom is not a matter of intelligence – it does not simply pop into our minds. Wisdom must be pursued in this way. This pursuit of wisdom, this listening and hearing and responding, does not lead to an understanding of the fear of the Lord – it is the way we are called to fear the Lord.
Then God Will Give Us Victory Over Sin: “He holds victory in store for the upright; he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.” What is the victory given to those who enter into this process of learning to reverence God? It is victory over sin. Those who are applying wisdom to their lives are protected from sin because the process of learning wisdom is really a process of repentance. They are referred to as “blameless” and “upright” not because they are sinless, but because they are seeking God reverently. And yet, in seeking God and living reverently, they are gradually turning from sin.
Then God Can Guide Our Lives: “He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” Those who are seeking God can be guided by God. How can God guide those who are not seeking him? They are not listening to him! Those who are searching for wisdom are guided and protected from sin, from destructive behaviors and understandings, and from evil consequences. Instead they are consciously putting themselves in the hands of God – who is able and desirous to do them good.
We cannot speak of being in God’s will or of seeking God’s will until and unless we are listening and responding to his word.
Then Wisdom Will Enter Our Hearts: This picture here is of a general entering a city to take control of it. It is a picture of change coming over the heart. Knowledge becomes pleasant to the soul because the heart is being governed by a new power.
This is the end or goal that the process begun in vs. one had in view. This is what Wisdom was offering in Prov.1:23 –“I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you”. It is a picture of God’s Spirit entering the heart and renewing it.
The result is that knowledge of God (heart knowledge) does become something we love. Discretion protects us from sin. Understanding does guard our steps so that we live wisely in God’s will.
…AND WISDOM WILL KEEP US FROM THE CORRUPTION OF SIN.
You Will Be Kept From a Twisted Heart: There are two great dangers – two ways in which sin corrupts – that we are being warned of. First is the perverse man: “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men whose words are perverse; who leave straight paths to walk in dark ways; who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perversity of evil…”
These are people whose words are twisted so that they call evil good and good evil. Scripture recognizes the danger and power of perverted speech and understanding. Even man in his unfallen state fell to perverted speech – lies about God and his Creation.
Perverse speech is like a lens put in front of our eyes, coloring all that we see. It is the suggestion that God means us harm – that he has some hidden motive – that he is unforgiving, or conversely that he will not judge and does not care about sin.
Twisted speech affects us, it gets in our mind, even if we don’t believe it up front – it becomes a suggestion, an accusation against God in our minds. And, of course, if God is evil, then evil and rebellion against God becomes a kind of freedom.
Wisdom counteracts perverted speech. Wisdom becomes a searchlight exposing the lie of perverted speech and giving us a true understanding of God’s character.
You Will Be Kept From Seduction: The second main concern is characterized by the adulteress. The danger here is not a matter of having our understanding twisted as much as it is one of being overcome by appetites and false desires, which become addictive and which are never filled or satisfied. Wisdom exposes the fact that seduction – though attractive – leads to death. Promising life it actually leads away from life.
The Gospel: “Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous; for the upright will live in the land and the blameless will remain it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.” We have fallen. We have listened to twisted words and been influenced by them. We have been seduced by wrong desires. We have failed to hear wisdom. We have been snared by our own foolishness.
Hear the gospel! Christ was cut off for our unfaithfulness and destroyed for our wickedness. There is grace for our falleness. We are given the righteousness of Christ for our sin and the privilege to begin to learn wisdom under the grace and favor and forgiveness of Christ. If you have been a fool, come now and listen and find wisdom. Search for Wisdom and let it enter your heart and take you over.