Practical Righteousness Part II
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Proverbs, that portion of the Word of God we are considering. We have designated chapters 26 through 29 as The Gleanings of Hezekiah's Men . There we have found those proverbs that were covered by the dust of years which were uncovered when Hezekiah, moved by the Spirit of God, ordered his scribes to uncover all of the Scriptures that had been stored away—hidden away—and disregarded in the days of idolatry and to make them available to men again. Of course, the Spirit of God has seen to it that these have been included in what we know as the book of Proverbs in our Bible today.

I mentioned as we began our discussion of chapter 28 that it dealt with the subject of practical righteousness. We pointed out to you that practical righteousness is actually righteousness in practice. We are told in the book of the Revelation that when men are prepared for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, they will be clothed in garments of white; and those garments will be the righteous acts of the saints—not the righteousness in the sense that we all have the imputed righteousness of Christ, but practical righteousness in the sense that we have endeavored to obey the Word of our God.

We said that the chapter falls naturally into four divisions: Practical Righteousness and the Nations , Practical Righteousness of the Individual , Practical Righteousness and the Poor , and Practical Righteousness and the Rich . The divisions are not in categorical order so that you might read verses 1-4 and have that which concerns the nation. We pointed out to you that various verses throughout the chapter deal with the subject of practical righteousness and the nation, and we now want to notice those verses in the chapter which deal with practical righteousness and the individual. Please follow in your Bibles as we read those verses, and then we will discuss them as the Spirit of God brings various things to our mind. Notice, please, Proverbs, chapter 28, verse 5:

Proverbs 28:

5 Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.
9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
10 Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.
13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
14 Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
18 Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.
23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.
25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

If you were following closely as we read the verses, you recognized that each one deals with the individual and his conduct in a righteous way.

Practical Righteousness and Perception

We want to consider these verses individually as they describe for us various aspects of individual, practical righteousness. Notice with me again, verse 5:

Proverbs 28:

5 Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.

The word things is in italics. That means that it is not in the original text, so the simple statement is: “They that seek the LORD understand all.” This brings to our mind practical righteousness and perception in the life of the believer. Every believer ought to be characterized by perception. There are two classes of people spoken of in the verse—evil men and they who seek the Lord.

We are told that these evil men understand not judgment, and we might add, on the basis of the Word of God, that they understand not anything. By contrast, they that seek the Lord understand all. Obviously, the thrust of this verse is on the word understand . The word understand is from the Hebrew word biyn , which may be translated by the phrase,“to separate mentally.” What do you do when you understand? If you are going to understand what I am saying, you are going to have to separate in your mind the various things that I say to you. You are going to have to catalog them in relation to the knowledge that you already have. If you are a believer, you are going to have the ability of perception of these things that an unbeliever does not have. This word involves the idea of discernment. It also involves the idea of perceiving, and that is the reason we're talking with you about practical righteousness and perception.

If you will glance back to Proverbs, chapter 1, you will find that the word understand and the word perceive are used interchangably as translations of this Hebrew word biyn . In the first chapter of the book of Proverbs, notice verses 1-2:

Proverbs 1:

1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;
2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

Notice the word perceive . It is the translation of the Hebrew word biyn , which is translated by the word understand , so we have scriptural grounds for speaking to you about perception as an evidence of practical righteousness in the life of the believer.

Turn in your Bibles to I Corinthians, chapter 2, and notice verses 14-15, because this truth that I am enunciating at the moment is not a truth that was limited to the book of Proverbs. It was taught elsewhere in the Word of God and very clearly taught in Paul's Corinthian letter in chapter 2, where there is presented to us the difference between the natural man—the man who is unsaved—and the man who actually knows the Lord. Look at verse 14:

I Corinthians 2:

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

No matter how intelligent the natural man is, no matter how well learned he may be, he cannot understand the things of God because the things of God must be spiritually discerned. The natural man looks upon all that we believe as a lot of foolishness, and you are spinning your wheels and wasting your time if you are trying to convince the natural man that any spiritual truth is right. He will never be able to comprehend it.

Look at verse 15, and you will notice the difference:

I Corinthians 2:

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth [discerneth, perceiveth] all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

Perception and practical righteousness are related. In Proverbs, chapter 28, verse 5, it is indicated that the reason the individual understands is because of his relationship to the Lord. The evil man does not understand. He that speaks the mind of the Lord does understand, and in I Corinthians, chapter 2, we notice that the reason is that one man is spiritual and one man is natural.

I would like for you to turn to I John, chapter 2, verse 27, that you might have pointed out to you that this understanding of which I speak is not a matter primarily of study of the Word. You could study the Word and be completely afield in what I am talking about. How do you think all of the books are written that attempt to tear down the Word of God. Men who write these books are not ignoramuses. They are scholars. They know Hebrew; they know Greek. They are students, but they are unsaved men. They approach the truths of the Word of God and find nothing but foolishness, even though they have the mechanics of the trade. What is the difference? They do not have the annointing that is described in I John, chapter 2, verse 27. John is talking about false teachers. That is the reason he said:

I John 2:

26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.

“False teachers are trying to lead you astray. That is the reason I am writing.” John takes comfort in another wonderful truth. I do not suppose there is any teacher of the Word who is not concerned that the message is not being fully received by everybody who listens; and sometimes he thinks, “How can I possibly get this message across in the little time that I have?” Then he takes comfort in the fact that the responsibility is really not his, other than the responsibility of preparation and delivery, etc. The responsibility lies with the Holy Spirit. Notice verse 27:

I John 2:

27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

This is the perception that is given of the Holy Spirit: the individual, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, walking in fellowship, is able to comprehend the truth of the Word of God. John is saying, “Men who want to seduce you are about everywhere. I have written these things that you might have the assurance of your relationship with Christ, but I take great joy in knowing that within you there is One who is able to reveal truth to you so that you don't really need anybody to teach you.”

Now, wait just a moment! He is not abrogating the gift of the pastor who is able to teach his flock. He is simply saying that you do not need to depend upon men for spiritual discernment. That comes from the Holy Spirit of God.

I would like for you to keep in mind another thought that is suggested in our text. In Proverbs, chapter 28, verse 5, we read:

Proverbs 28:

5 Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.

This is an idiomatic expression: “…they that seek the LORD…” That describes believers in the Old Testament, yet we cannot pass by from the portion of the Word without calling to your attention the word seek . This particular word seek comes from the Hebrew word baqash , which means “to ask for or request.” There is brought to our attention another source of understanding, another source of wisdom—the privilege that we have of asking.

We call to your attention the familiar words found in James, chapter 1, verses 5-6:

James 1:

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

“…let him ask of God…” This is the challenge that God issues to every believer, and this is what the Spirit of God is suggesting to us. We who are believers need not wander about in darkness connected to anything because we can seek the Lord. We can ask and the Lord will give the wisdom for which we seek and will enable us to walk in light and not in darkness.

Practical Righteousness and Prayer

Back to Proverbs, chapter 28, verse 9, that we might have another illustration of practical righteousness. In this verse we read:

Proverbs 28:

9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

We recognize information that is related to practical righteousness and prayer . Prayer should be a vital part of the believer's life, yet there are certain things God teaches us in His Word about the privilege of prayer that should cause many of us to recognize that prayer is not a mere gimmick that we have thought it to be. Sometimes some of us think that all we need to do is say a little prayer, like somebody might utter a little magic formula, and everything will be different because we said a little prayer. But you will notice in verse 9 the stipulation:

Proverbs 28:

9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

The law, in this passage of Scripture, as it is consistently throughout the Word of God in texts such as this, is a reference to the Word of God. We are told here that he who turns away his ear from the hearing of the Word of God, even his prayer shall be an abomination.

What does this mean? Does this mean that if you deliberatly stay away from church so you won't hear the Word of God or if you refuse to take advantage of other means of hearing the Word of God, your prayer will be an abomination? Not necessarily so, because the word hearing here is from the Hebrew word shama , and it speaks of hearing with the intent of obeying. You hear and you obey, so we are talking really about obedience to the Word of God. It is possible for you to live in obedience to the Word of God without attending a church service, but you certainly have to be in contact with the Word of God if you are going to live in obedience to the Word. Here we are told that believers, whether they go to church or whether they don't, if they are not living in obedience to the Word (practical righteousness), the prayer which they utter is an abomination to God.

Sometimes in our day, when so much emphasis is placed not on spirituality, but on religion, people get the idea that all you need to do is start to talk to God and God immedietly becomes your servant boy. This isn't true and it isn't true for people whom you consider very active in the church. God is not going to hear the prayer of anyone who deliberately disobeys the Word of God.

Of course, if you disobey the Word of God, you are out of fellowship; and if you are out of fellowship, then God does not hear your prayer. That is why it is a dangerous thing to remain out of fellowship. You are as a ship caught adrift without an anchor or any kind of guidance at all.

Of course, I do not need to emphasize that the unsaved never have their prayers heard. Notice what I am saying, please—heard and not answered . That doesn't even enter into the picture. The unsaved don't ever have their prayers heard.

I know all the stories, and I have heard them time without number, about somebody who was in some dangerous place somewhere, and he said, “Oh, God, help me,” and God helped him and so he said, “God heard my prayer.” I want to tell you, Friend, if God ever delivered you when you were an unsaved person because you prayed a prayer like that, it is only because you think it was your prayer. Either in God's sovereign purpose and plan He was going to deliver, and in His mercy and grace, save you for the day that He could lead you to a knowledge of Himself, or because of a praying mother or friend somewhere who was in fellowship with God, God delivered you from the instance in which you were. You would have done just as well if you had buried your head under the rocks and taken your chances. Your prayer meant absolutely nothing. I know that folk don't like to hear that, but it is the Word.

Believer, hear me: If you are not living in obedience to the Word of God, then your prayer is an abomination to the Lord. I think it might be wise for us to keep in mind that the Hebrew word translated prayer here is the Hebrew word tphillah which could be translated intercession . The reason that I call that to your attention is that it seems to me to make the entire matter of disobedience on the part of believers so much more serious. If I wanted—I am speaking hypothetically—to disobey God and live out of fellowship and hurt no one but myself, maybe I could say, “It is my business if I want to live out of fellowship. I am not hurting anybody but myself.” Again, I emphasize I am speaking hypothetically because it isn't possible. The sad thing about it is that so often when we are out of fellowship, not only are we involving ourselves in our disobedience, but we are involving others, too, particularly those in whom we have a real interest, if for no other reason than we cannot intercede in their behalf. Intercession is an abomination in the sight of God when you are disobedient to His Word.

We would not be doing justice to the passage of Scripture if we did not look at the word abomination and remind you that it comes from the Hebrew word towebah , which means “disgusting.” There are some things which are disgusting in the sight of God and one of them is a believer interceding for someone else while the believer is out of fellowship, while the believer is disobedient to the Word of God. You see, we are involved in practical righteousness whether we like to think we are or not, and what is more vital in any of our lives than the subject of prayer?

Practical Righteousness and Personal Influence

Look with me now, at verse 10:

Proverbs 28:

10 Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.

We are still talking about two people, as we are in each of these proverbs—the evil man and the good man. The individual who causes righteous people to go astray, in this particular proverb, is an unbeliever. The people who do this are unbelievers.

There is a sense in which you as a believer may cause a righteous brother to stumble. The Apostle James said that it is necessary that offenses come, but woe unto him by whom they come; that is, in the natural course of events, it is necessary that people be caused to stumble, but you had better not be the one who causes them to stumble. That is the reason that we as believers should be concerned about our Christian influence, for that is the subject of this particular passage of Scripture—practical righteousness and personal influence.

God dismisses the evil man who causes the righteous to go astray in an evil way by saying that he will fall into his own pit; but the emphasis in the verse falls upon the righteous individual, by contrast, with the words:

Proverbs 28:

10 …but the upright shall have good things in possession.

Why will the upright have good things in possession? Because through their personal influence, in contrast to the evil man, they do not cause individuals to stumble; they enable them to live in a manner that is well-pleasing to God.

“Having good possession,” is not a happy translation in our King James text, for that one phrase comes from the Hebrew word nachal which means “to be rewarded.” The believer will be rewarded because of his personal influence in regard to the righteous and the way they live. If you use the ability God has given you, the knowledge that God has entrusted to you to encourage believers in the right way, there will be a reward for you.

I like the way the Living Bible rendering puts it: “Men who encourage the upright to do good shall be given a worthwhile reward.” When? Certainly there is no promise of a reward upon this earth, and if you are looking for a reward upon this earth, you may or may not be disappointed. Sometimes God, in His grace, permits us to see the fruit of our labors; but more times than not, He does not. We walk by faith, Beloved. It may be, in the wisdom of God, you will never know whether your personal influence had any effect or not. That is the reason we must live in obedience to the Word of God because at the Judgment Seat of Christ, when all of the proper recording has been done and all of the tallying up has been done in a way that no human could possibly do it, every man shall have praise of God. He shall receive a reward for the things that he has done in the body, whether they be good or bad. If they are good, then he receives a reward. If they are bad, in the sense of being worthless, then he is saved, but he is saved with the smell of fire upon him (I Corinthians 3) because all of the efforts that are done in the flesh are burned up at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

The Spirit of God is quick to emphasize, and we would like to emphasize that the individual himself will be saved, yet as by fire because the Judgment Seat of Christ is not a place where you are punished for things that you have done or not done. It is a place where your life is evaluated, and whatever reward is forthcoming will be determined. It is possible that some of us have surrounded ourselves with such a life that at the Judgment Seat of Christ, there will be no reward whatsoever.

Practical Righteousness as Related to Fellowship

Look at verse 13, where we notice another illustration of practical righteousness:

Proverbs 28:

13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Here we have practical righteousness as it is related to fellowship. If you are thinking you will recognize that there is kinship with verse 9, at which we have already looked, when we were talking about prayer and obedience to the Word. That was a specific. This is a more general emphasis. Look at the verse again:

Proverbs 28:

13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

We have used the word fellowship as the illustration of practical righteousness in this verse because of the verse that is familiar to most of you. Let's notice I John, chapter 1, verse 9:

I John 1:

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Those verses preceding that and following indicate that as a result we are in fellowship. A great deal of emphasis is placed upon the subject of confession, and rightly so. Don't wait a half second to confess sin of which you are made conscious by the Holy Spirit.

Here the Spirit of God is pleased to place emphasis upon other things of the matter. Look at the last part of the verse again:

Proverbs 28:

13 …but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Notice the word forsaketh . It comes from the Hebrew word azab , which means “to relinquish,” and I like that word better, for the things which keep us out of fellowship are usually things to which we cling. The Holy Spirit of God has convicted us of them. We know they are wrong because through His Word He has spoken to us about them, but we cling to them, and we know very well that we are going to continue in them. We know when we have completed a certain act, a certain thought, a certain attitude, we are going to confess it so that our fellowship might be restored.

There may be individuals who are content to live in this state of sinning and confessing. Don't misunderstand me. Do not think that I am suggesting that I believe you should wait until you have a lot of sins piled up and then have some kind of confessional. I think that momentary, instantaneous confession is vital to your life as a believer; but I wonder if the Spirit of God is making an appeal to us to relinquish some of the things to which we are holding that makes necessary this matter of constantly confessing. Don't you think there are some things in our lives that we ought to be mature enough in the Word of God that we could relinquish where they would not constantly be the cause of our lack of fellowship?

Let me give you an illustration and realize that I am recognizing even as I give this illustration that Satan would be delighted to have my fellowship broken in connection with the very thing that I am going to talk about. Before I was born again, I exercised an ungovernable, devilish temper. I lost my temper, as the common expression goes, at the drop of a hat. I have often said that the only reason I never killed anybody is either the grace of God or poor aim. It is probably God's grace more than anything else.

I also had a terrible habit of profanity. I have been out of Yankee land for a long time, but I am a Yankee by birth, and I have often wondered if Yankees aren't born cussing. Profanity among Yankees is very, very common, and I had a profane vocabulary which was second to none.

When I was born again, I remember telling my brothers about it, and they said, “Now, [and they used some profanity] what does that mean?” I said, “Well, it means a lot of things, but it means I am not going to cuss any more and it means I am not going to ever get mad any more.” I assumed this to be true. Of course, I knew nothing except that Christ had saved me. That was all that I was sure of. I was sure of that, and I have never doubted it, but I had to learn much from the Word of God.

This amused them tremendously. They didn't say anything, but I thought I detected a gleam in their eye that bode no good for me. Sure enough, two nights had passed and on the third night they got together after we were supposed to have retired for the night in the one room we shared, and they began to see if I was really born again or not. They provoked me. There was no question about it. They provoked me and provoked me unmercifully. Before I knew it, my old vocabulary was in action and my ungodly temper was asserting itself. Then they laughed and slapped their legs and said, “Joe, so you got saved, did you?”

Of course, I thought I got unsaved there for a minute, but I didn't. I did find out my fellowship was broken. I went along in my Christian experience, I do not know for how long, when I sinned and confessed, and sinned and confessed. I cussed and confessed it. I got mad and confessed it until, through the Word of God and this particular verse of Scripture, God spoke to my heart and said in so many words (I have never heard an audible voice; I am simply speaking in a manner that you can understand.) “Don't you think it is about time that you forsake such profanity? Don't you think it is about time that you forsake that ungodly temper?” Then I asked God, through His Word and the Holy Spirit, to take care of that which I could not handle. Friend, I want to tell you that God revamped my vocabulary so that I am not profane at the drop of a hat. I want to tell you that God, and I am saying this very cautiously, recognizing how quick Satan is to cause us to fall, by His grace, I have never lost my temper in the manner in which I spoke of before. Yes, I have lost my temper since that time, many times, and I have broken fellowship because my temper, out of control, dishonored God and grieved the Holy Spirit.

Read Ephesians, chapter 4, if you don't think your ungodly temper grieves the Holy Spirit of God. It does. But I say to you, Beloved, that in comparison, for I would not want to set myself up as an individual who does not sin, but by comparison, God has given me grace to relinquish that part of the old life that really has no part in the believer's experience and does nothing more than break fellowship. God says in His Word, “He that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall have mercy.”

Before we leave this verse let me emphasize to you that there is something far worse than sinning and confessing in the manner in which I have described, and that is covering your sins. That is far, far worse. This word covereth is a translation of the Hebrew word kacah , which is translated by our English word conceal . You see, you don't literally have to cover your sins in the sense of having some physical covering in mind, though many do. Many believers live a double life. That is the reason hypocrisy is a criticism of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. But you, as a believer, never conceal your sins even for an instant. That is the reason I said that I didn't want any of you to interpret my remarks as meaning that I think you ought to let your sins pile up and when you get quite a few of them, then go confess them. Don't cover your sin for a moment because God says in this passage of Scripture, “He that coverth his sins shall not prosper…” Any believer with unconfessed sin in his life, no matter how well he has concealed it, will not prosper.

This word prosper has nothing to do with material prosperity. It is true that if you are out of fellowship a lot of things could go wrong, but not necessarily in the area of prosperity. Through the years in the ministry I have known many men out of fellowship who prospered more out of fellowship than they did in fellowship, as far as material things are concerned. So don't judge an individual's relationship to the Lord by his material stance. It is not conclusive evidence.

This word prosper speaks of spiritual prosperity, the same thing that John had in mind when he wrote his epistle and said that he could wish that his beloved Gaius would prosper physically as he was spiritually. He meant that he had a prosperous spiritual life but had a weak physical body, and John was wishing that his physical health could measure up to his spiritual health, as anyone would wish anyone else well.

Practical Righteousness and Sensitivity

Go back to Proverbs, chapter 28, for I would like to share these other thoughts with you. Notice verse 14:

Proverbs 28:

14 Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

I am going to suggest to you now that this verse of Scripture speaks of practical righteousness and sensitivity. This word sensitivity is not a popular word in our language at the moment because folk have stolen it and are using it in a completely erroneous way. Most of the time we would warn you to stay away from sensitivity programs. They don't mean any good for you at all, and they can cause you a lot of problems. I am using the word sensitivity because of a phrase that I have coined in my own personal life. I have often told you that I constantly pray that God will keep me sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I want to know when I have grieved the Holy Spirit. You say, “Won't you know it?” Not necessarily. You can be so busy about so many things that when the Holy Spirit calls it to your attention, you won't even recognize the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. I have asked the Holy Spirit to make me sensitive because there are some individuals who evidently are not. Look at verse 14 again:

Proverbs 28:

14 Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

There are individuals among believers who do not live in a state of fear. “Feareth alway.” We are not talking about abject fear, as often we have pointed out to you, for this phrase, “feareth alway,” comes from the Hebrew word pachad , which speaks of reverence. Happy is the man who lives in a constant state of reverence for God and His Word. You see, if you reverence the Word of God, you won't brush it off as meaning absolutely nothing. You won't be laughing about it. You won't be saying that it doesn't effect you. You will be concerned about it, and that is the reason that one who chooses to sit under the ministry of the Word has assumed a tremendous responsibility, for a man who knows the Word and does not obey the Word is in a serious condition.

You have the choice of being sensitive to the voice of God or you have the choice of hardening your heart against the things of God's Word. In chapter 29, the same word is used, and there it is translated “hardening your neck.” This word hardeneth comes from the Hebrew word qashah , which means “to be stiff necked.” Usually we speak of a stiff-necked person as a person who is proud—a person who is too stiff-necked to bow his head to anything or anybody. He is a person who refuses to obey the Word of God when the Word of God brings to his attention that which is contrary to fellowship, and he will fall into mischief. The word mischief is not a word that we use every day. It comes from the Hebrew word ra , and it speaks of affliction. Another word would be chastening .

Beloved, hear the Word of God. If you refuse to be sensitive to the Spirit of God and to obey the Word of God and you harden your heart so that you cannot obey the Word (Many people steel themselves against obedience.) then you are going to fall under the chastening hand of God for there is no other alternative. It would be wise for believers to recognize today that there is the possibility of chastening for the disobedient believer, and it would be wise for the disobedient believer to recognize that he will not escape the chastening that we have in mind.

Look at verse 18:

Proverbs 28:

18 Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.

This is speaking of the believer. No, it does not mean that if you walk right, you will eventually be saved. This is what a lot of folk think. Many, many, times in conversations with individuals when we talk about our eternal home, I have asked them about their assurance about eternity and they say, “Well, can anybody know? I don't know if I am walking as good as I ought to walk, and I don't know whether I am living as good and clean as I ought to live, but someday I will know.”

Beloved, your salvation does not depend upon the way you walk. It rests upon what Christ has done. The Spirit of God is speaking about the believer in verse 18, not in connection with salvation, but in connection with deliverance, for the word that is translated salvation here is translated more times by the word deliverance , and it speaks of deliverance from any object or thing that might be in the mind of the Spirit of God at the time. The Hebrew word yshuwah is translated by the word delivered , so that we can read the passage of Scripture: “Whoso walketh uprightly shall be delivered…” You see, practical righteousness and the subject of deliverance are interrelated.

One of the reasons that if you are not living in obedience to the Word of God you cannot expect the delivering power of God in your life is that God does not hear the prayer, as we have already learned, of one who is not obedient to His Word. This verse says that he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once. The word perverse comes from the Hebrew word aqash , which is translated by the more familiar word crooked , and it describes the individual who walks a crooked path instead of a straight path. That is why the Psalmist said, “Make straight paths for my feet, Oh LORD.” That is the reason that he wrote again, “Thy Word, Oh LORD is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” He that walks at the direction of the Word of God will not walk in crooked paths, and he can expect God to deliver him in the time of emergency, in the time of temptation, or whatever else you might like to include in this sphere of this word deliverance ; but if you are not walking uprightly, you will fall and, thank God, sometimes a fall is necessary to bring us to our senses. Many men would still be out of fellowship with God if they had not fallen. That woke them up.

Practical Righteousness and Restoration

Notice verse 23:

Proverbs 28:

23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.

I suggest to you that this particular verse is speaking of practical righteousness and restoration—not your restoration, but the ministry of restoration in which you may engage. The word rebuketh here comes from the Hebrew word yakach , which means “to be a daysman.”

Remember when Job felt that he had no contact with God at all, he said, “Oh, that there was a daysman betwixt us both”—somebody to bridge the gap. You have the opportunity of restoration. You have the opportunity of being a daysman. I emphasize that because the word rebuke is such a harsh word and so many believers feel that it is their business to go around rebuking, but if you don't restore, Beloved, there is no point in rebuking.

If this verse has it full thrust, I would like for you to look at it again as I call to your attention that the word afterwards is in the wrong place in our English translation and consequently does not give the meaning that it would ordinarily give. Notice the verse again:

Proverbs 28:

23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.

It should read: “He that rebuketh a man shall find more favour afterward than he that flattereth with the tongue.”

You see, as Galatians, chapter 6, verse 1, reminds us, if you see your brother overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual should restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. But suppose you say, concerning that Christian brother, “Well, it isn't any of my business, and I don't want to hurt his feelings.” It really isn't any of your business to go sniffing out evil actions of other believers; but if you recognize that a brother is floundering in the morass of a sin, you who are spiritual should exercise the ministry of restoration.

If, instead of exercising that ministry of restoration, you recognize it and you tell him, “Oh, everything is going to be all right,” instead of saying, “Brother, your real problem is this,” you are not going to be appreciated by the brother in question. I have through the years found it necessary to rebuke. It was my obligation, and I will be the first to admit that right at first the rebuke was not accepted. I am speaking now of other believers. I am not speaking of rebukes that are necessary in relation to my children. I am talking about my responsibility as I walked in the Spirit and at a given moment have recognized that some other Christian brother was in sin, I rebuked. I stood as a daysman, and I wasn't appreciated. I was told very bluntly that I wasn't appreciated. I was told in so many words to go mind my own business, but I have enjoyed, time and time and time again, what is involved in this word afterwards; for I have had people come to me and say, “You know, when you came to me that day, I knew you were right. That is why I got mad. That is the reason I told you to mind your own business, but I am so glad you came. You didn't think that it made any difference, but it did. Because you came that day to rebuke me, I have come for help now.”

You see, if I had used flattering words, they would not have had any confidence in whatever help I might have been able to give them because they would not have known whether I was speaking falsely the second time as I would have been the first time if I had used flattering words instead of a rebuke.

Notice verse 25:

Proverbs 28:

25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

I am glad that we can close on this particular verse. I am glad because of the message that is included in this verse. It is wonderful. You will notice the statement: “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife…” This word proud comes from the Hebrew word rachab , which means “without restrictions.” The individual who lives without any restrictions whatsoever does nothing but stir up strife. The illustration you have heard often, I am sure, that if I want to live without restriction, I can swing my arm about anywhere I want to swing it. It is my arm and it is my business and nobody is going to restrict me. But if my arm causes my fist to come into contact with your nose, then I am going to stir up strife, you see, and there is going to be some restrictions. An individual who lives without any restrictions of any kind stirs up strife.

Though this does have a wide application, it has an immediate application in the light of the second clause in the verse. Notice:

Proverbs 28:

25 …but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

Notice the phrase: “…he that putteth his trust…” You see, when you put your trust in the Lord, you accept some restrictions. When you put your trust in the Lord, you accept the restriction of the Word of God. You accept the restrictions of grace. You accept the restrictions of the liberty wherewith you have been made free. As the Apostle Paul put it, you become a bondslave of the Lord Jesus Christ. You recognize that a bondslave is an individual who is a servant by choice, not because anybody has robbed him of his liberty, but because he chooses to be a slave.

Practical Righteousness and Rest

Notice the last part of verse 25. This is the part that rejoices my heart. Notice:

Proverbs 28:

25 …he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

The problem of obesity in the physical realm may be something for you to be concerned about for any number of reasons, but you should never be concerned about it in the spiritual realm. Spiritually God wants you to be a fat Christian, a fat believer. The word fat comes from the Hebrew word dashen which speaks of that which satisfies.

If you will read the verse with that thought in mind, you read:

Proverbs 28:

25 He that accepts no restrictions stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be satisfied.

That is the reason I have used the word rest to describe this manifestation of practical righteousness. The rest that is yours by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is marvelous indeed, and the rest that is yours by faith in obedience to the Word of God in unbroken fellowship is something that it beggars words to describe. I would that all believers knew that rest.


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org