Wisdom and Discernment

“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: and put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.  Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.  Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.  Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.  Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.  The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.”  Proverbs 23:1-8  (KJB)

Wisdom and Discernment – Proverbs 23:1-35

Verses 1 – 3; 6 – 8 —  Be alert and aware when people in places of authority and power invite you to their table.  The discerning one will be sickened by what the powerful is or was trying to do.

Verses 4 – 5 —  The wise and discerning will not make seeking wealth and riches their life pursuit.

“Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.
Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: for their Redeemer is mighty; He shall plead their cause with thee.   Proverbs 23:9-11

Verse 9 —  The wise will know when to be silent around the foolish individual.  Remember the words of Jesus “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7:6).

Verses 10 – 11 —  (Prov. 22:28;  Deut 15:9)  Further confirms this teaching.  In these verses, however, there is reference to orphans.  Someone seizing the land of an orphan or orphans will have the Redeemer defend the orphan against the land grabber.

“Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.  Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.  Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.  Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.  For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.
Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.”  Proverbs 23:12-19

Verses 12 – 16, 19 —  It is good to teach others [our children] to pursue instruction and knowledge.  The Bible does teach corporal punishment (vv. 13-14).  There is rejoicing within parents when their child is a success in life; especially in Christian parents when they see their child following the LORD.

Verses 17 – 18  —  The Christian discerner should make godliness the prime search and pursuit of his/her life.  The Christian has no right to envy “sinners”.  If the Christian is living for God and His Son Jesus Christ the sinner will desire Christ too.

“Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.
Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.
My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit.  She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.
Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes?  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.  Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.  Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.  They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”  Proverbs 23:20-35

Verses 20 – 26 —  Wise words from parents guide children in life, living righteously; education, labor; learning truth and its value.  Children also learn from the example of parents (v. 26).

Verses 27 – 35  — In a world with the rebellious, feel good, party attitude, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die”; the wisdom of God warns of the perils of licentious (unrestrained by law or general morality; lawless; immoral), rebellious, iniquitous living.

The Will to Discern

God had promised Abraham and Sarah a child; not through a surrogate; not be adoption, but one of their flesh and bone.  One day as Abraham was possibly contemplating this promise of God he and Sarah have some visitors show up:

“And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.  And the LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.’  And the LORD said, ‘Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto Me; and if not, I will know.’  And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.”  Genesis 18:16-22 (KJV)

There are three of what the book of Genesis calls men, but Abraham recognizes one as being the LORD Himself.  So these other two men must have been angelic escorts.  For the LORD of the universe to appear as a man is almost unheard of unless you know of Jesus, of course.

You will notice in the text before the text above there were further promises of a son for the two; the Patriarch of our faith, and his wife Sarah.  Then the two “Men” departed and went toward Sodom; and Abraham went with the three for a little distance, then the LORD considers telling, and does tell Abraham what He is about to do in Sodom and Gomorrah.  Abraham pleads for the cities, and probably due to Lot’s being present in the city of Sodom, so Abraham prays for mercy for the cities in the behalf of any that are righteous in the cities getting all the way down to only 10 people (18:32).

With the passage above we see two of the “Men” angels go on without the LORD.  One thing we can see by this is that the LORD knew Abraham, and Abraham knew the LORD.  That is important for us to know.  One can know the LORD; know all one can know about Him, and still not be known by the LORD.  Now is the time to have the will to discern.  Abraham had the discernment that this was truly the LORD.  He heard the LORD’s word, believed it and pleaded his case before Him.

Note that it was the LORD who came to Abraham and entrusted to him that which He was about to do in the matter of the judgment of  a people.  Is Abraham angry that God would consider such a thing?  It sure does not seem that way to me.  He discerns that God is worthy and has cause to pass judgment upon the people.  Sometimes I do not see that some Christians have the right heart for God in His judgments today.  We hear far too often, “Now, God wouldn’t do that.  He does not judge in that fashion.”  O, really.  Where do you read that in Scripture?  That kind of judgment is based on sinful human emotion, comparing God with their own feelings rather than the truths of Scripture.

We have lost the Will to Discern.  Consider the following verses from Matthew’s gospel:

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”  Matthew 7:15-20 (KJV)

Jesus teaching us to beware of false prophets.  False prophets, false teachers, “In sheep’s clothing” teaching things about God that are not true.  The word of God is true, and any teacher, preacher, or spiritual leader who teaches that God does not or will not judge is false; and should not be heard.

God is holy, righteous and just; and because He is love; He also must judge the righteous judgment.  He will not allow His children to sin successfully.  “By their fruits you shall know them.”  Do not throw the words of Jesus (“Judge not…”) at those who know the word of God, because we are also told to make judgments; such as “By their fruits you shall know them”.  You will be putting yourself on a mighty thin thread when  and if you do.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 88 – The Christian and Discernment

It has been said that the best way to identify a counterfeit is to really know the real thing.  It has been told to me by one who has experience as a teller that banks train them to get the feel for the real paper money, and when a counterfeit passes through their fingers it is almost immediately identified.  Do they study the counterfeit?  Not at all.  They get to know the genuine article.

There is a great illustration, even parable of sorts to that thought for the Christian.  I used to spend a lot of time studying  different religions; and I find no fault in doing so; but to use great caution, and know the true God and His Son Jesus personally.

My reading today began in the First Epistle of John the apostle; and ended with Revelation chapter 2.  The Epistles of John have been called “Love Letters” to the Christians; if they have not been, maybe they should be; because the First one is all about Christian love; first for God and His Son Jesus, and second the Christian’s love one for another.

In the First Epistle John covers much about love, loving one another, and he also deals with discernment in chapter four.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”  1 John 4:1-3 (KJV)

To hear some professing Christian leaders speak today you would think that any belief is alright, and get you to heaven; as long as you have “faith”.  John nails it down to what one believes about Jesus Christ.  There is strong implication in the above text that John is viewing Jesus as Deity “come in the flesh”.  God came down to man in the form of a man.  John says anyone teaches that is of God; if not they are not of God.  It is sad to say there are some religions, Christian cults who believe that Jesus came in the flesh and is deity; but they add to that by teaching that all of us can become Christ, and be gods.  That is a distortion of the truth.

My friends do you know Jesus, the one and only Son of God, who became flesh, dwelt among us, died for our sins, was buried, and bodily rose from the grave; and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father?  God has no other sons, but those who are born again through the blood of Jesus Christ.

In Second John he writes of the “doctrine of Jesus Christ”, and most likely is referring to His being God in flesh; warning,

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”  2 John 9-11

In Third John he writes of a man in the church who loves dominating others, even prohibiting  John even from speaking in said church;

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.  Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” 3 John 9-11

A man name of Diotrephes is the guilty party.  Sometimes it is sad to admit but there are folks who call themselves Christian and pastor, bishop or elder who endeavor to dominate other people in the church.  Diotrephes was an evil man, keeping even the apostles of Jesus Christ out of the church, and excommunicating all who favored them.

I also read Jude.  Jude is believed to have been the half brother of Jesus, though he calls himself, “The servant/slave of Jesus Christ”.  In verse 11 he writes,

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”  Jude 11

If you would like to read more study on the book of Jude follow this link.

Mentioning three Old Testament personalities in this one verse; Cain the brother of Abel whom he killed and rejecting the way of God;  Balaam who led the enemy of Israel to cause them to sin; and Korah who was a rebel along with Dathan and Abiram, against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness journey (Numbers 16).  Still we see the need for discernment in the Body of Christ.

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapters one and two we see Jesus revealing Himself to John the apostle while he is being held prisoner on the isle of Patmos for his faith in Christ and preaching the gospel of Christ.  Oh, if there is ever a truer presentation of who Jesus is it is here.  Jesus says to John,

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,’ saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”  Revelation 1:8

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.'” Revelation 1:10-11 (KJV)

And in verse 17 He says again, “Fear not; I am the first and the last”.  No one can honestly say that except they be the incarnate Son of God, God in flesh.  Know Jesus and you will be able to discern the true from the false.  Know the Word of God and you will know the Living Word of God.  Remember what John wrote in John 1;

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  John 1:1

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

God has given us the ability, and power to be discerning; practice it for your life’s sake, for the Church’s sake; mostly for the sake of Jesus Christ Himself, and His glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Make Much of Prudence

Make Much of Prudence

Proverbs 16:21

references –   Proverbs 12:16, 23;  13:16; 14:8, 18;  15:5;  18:15;  22:3;  27:12;
New Testament –  Matthew 11:25;  Luke 10:21; John 14:6;  Romans 13:11-14; 2 Timothy 3:1-7

1.  In our text the word “wise” is used of those who hearts are upon the ways of the LORD.
2.  Again, the heart speaks of the inward man, the emotions, will, feelings, and even intellect.
3.  The word “prudent” means to separate, distinguish, discern, to understand; and instruct.
4.  The wise and prudent learn and are able to teach others wisdom and prudence.

I.  WITH THE WORLD IN DARKNESS OF SIN THERE IS MUCH NEED FOR DISCERNMENT (Prov. 16:21).

II.  GODLY WISDOM AND PRUDENCE ARE HIDDEN FROM THE WORLDLY WISE AND PRUDENT (Matthew 11:25;  Luke 10:21).

III.  THE WISE AND DISCERNING KEEP THEMSELVES FROM APPROACHING EVIL (Prov. 22:3; 27:12).
A.  That means the wise are aware of evil.
1.  What it is.
2.  Where it is.
3.  How to deal with it; or at least willing to learn how to deal with it.
B.  It is the business of the LORD, His people to educate people about being discerning.

IV.  THE DISCERNING WATCH THEIR STEPS – STEPS IN THE WAY OF THE CROSS OF THE LORD (Prov. 14:15; John 15:6; Romans 13:11-14;  2 Timothy 3:1-7).

Application –
i.  With evil growing worse and worse; it is time for wise and discerning hearts to prevail against evil;
ii.  We must realize that any “wisdom” or “prudence” which is against the Word of God is not godly wisdom or discernment; and rebuke it when it is spoken as the equal of the Word of God.
iii.  As Christians we must maintain time with the Lord in His Word; His Word, not our emotions, or intellect dismissing or adjusting His Word.
iv.  In this time of darkness and much dispair we must abide in the truth – what is truth for one is truth for all – keep your feet on the right path – and that is Christ Jesus.

-T.A.

These sermon notes are from a sermon preached by Tim A. Blankenship at Carr Lane Baptist Church morning worship 09/11/11

Grace Into Lewdness

“For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 4 (NKJV).

Yes! This is the same verse as yesterday’s. However it seems prudent to deal a little more on that part of the verse which is in bold print.

It is sad that there seems to be a growing number of professing Bible teachers who call themselves or have been called “Free Gracers”. Grace is free from our loving God and Savior, however, the fact of its being free to us does not give us freedom to live without control. That is usually what is meant by those who believe in “Free Grace”. It is usually meant that when you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, or they would just say Savior, then you have the “Liberty of conscience, or spirit” to live as you so please.

In affect, they turn the “grace of God into lewdness”, and the idea of Christian liberty is taken beyond what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is; there is liberty”. We are free in Christ.

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:12-18 (KJV)

The freedom which we have in Jesus Christ is not freedom to live as we please, but freedom from the law of condemnation, and freedom to live for Christ and unbound by sin. Before salvation we were servants of sin. Having Jesus as our Lord and Savior unbinds us from sin, then, to serve our Lord Jesus, and to live in the way that will glorify His precious and holy name.

It is not in the heart of a child of God to continue in disobedient, rebellious sin against our Lord. Jesus is Lord of the true believer, the true child of God. If the heart of the individual professing Jesus as Savior is not prone to glorify God by living for Him, then, that heart is not redeemed, and needs Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The heart of the truly saved individual desires to live in such a fashion that Jesus’s name will be glorified in their life. It is not given to the disobedience of sin.

The teacher who teaches such heresy is not a teacher of God, but is one of those who has come in “unnoticed” or “Unawares”. Take heed to what every teacher, who is teaching, teaches. Use the spiritual discernment which the Spirit of God gives you, along side the Word of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship