The Power of Righteousness
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Proverbs, that portion of the Word of God that we are studying. Notice chapter 29. You will recall that we are in that section of the book designated The Gleanings of Hezekiah's Men , which began with chapter 25 and concludes with chapter 29.

We are going to look at the last division in that section. When we presented to you an analysis of this section, we suggested to you that the thought of chapter 29 was The Power of Righteousness . You will recall that in chapter 28 we talked to you about practical righteousness. We now want to talk to you about the power of righteousness as it is seen in various areas.

As I have suggested already, the truth is not categorically presented in this chapter. I mean by that, we are not going to find all of the verses dealing with a certain subject in order. We are going to find them scattered throughout the chapter, so I have grouped them together that we might be able to think clearly in the various areas which are brought to our attention.

The Power of Righteousness in Government

I would like for us to first consider The Power of Righteousness in Government . We have already learned that the book of Proverbs is primarily an earthly book. It deals with wisdom, with instruction concerning ordinary, everyday affairs in the world in which we live.

We have noticed a number of things presented to us about government, and we now want to notice the difference righteousness makes in government. Notice chapter 29, verse 2:

Proverbs 29:

2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

This verse describes righteous rulers, and we are told that when rulers who are righteous are in authority, there is a time of rejoicing among the people. It makes a very definite difference whether righteousness reigns. When the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. This word mourn here suggests a state of concern. Righteous government is marked by a number of things. Solomon draws our attention to one or two of them in this chapter. Look at verse 4:

Proverbs 29:

4 The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.

We might suggest to you that righteousness in government is marked by discretion and by honesty, for the first statement of verse 4, “the king by judgment establisheth the land,” could be read, “the king by discernment establishes the land.” A king who is discerning, a king who marks his reign and his rule by discretion, will lend a stability to the land that a king who does not have that discretion cannot lend.

In the latter part of the verse, we do not have a re-emphasis on the same thing; we have another truth presented, which marks a land that is ruled by righteous men. I have used the word honesty to describe it. That is the positive description. The negative description is presented in the words of the text, where we read:

Proverbs 29:

4 …he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it [the land].

This phrase, receiveth gifts, implies bribery. We find in the newspapers in our day discussion from time to time about men who are in authority who do not accept bribes outright, but who do receive gifts from various corporations and individuals to whom they might have to render a favor in turn, although it is not spelled out. Because of the danger of it and because of the possibility connected therewith, men who receive gifts while they are in public office are criticized, and well they might be because men who are influenced by material gifts do not bring stability to the government.

Glance at verse 12, and notice that as a ruler goes, so goes the land in question:

Proverbs 29:

12 If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.

A different rendering of that particular verse which would be of value to us is: “A wicked ruler will have wicked aides on his staff.” You cannot expect the individuals who work for rulers who are not righteous to be any better than the rulers themselves.

The power of righteousness in government then is seen by the stability that righteous rulers provide through their discretion and honesty and through their compassion. Notice verse 14:

Proverbs 29:

14 The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.

When you read of the king judging the poor, you read of the king sitting in a court of judgment much like Solomon did who was approached by the two women who claimed the same baby. What a tremendous responsibility was his. To whom should the baby be given? He could have ignored one or the other on the basis of a lack of persuasion or influence, but he exercised the discretion to which we have already made reference by saying, “It appears that the simplest thing to do and the easiest way to settle this case is just to cut this baby in two and give each of you half a baby. That is fair and that ought to settle everything.”

You will recall that one woman cried out, “No! No! Don't do that,” and Solomon said, “Give her the baby.” You see, the real mother would rather forgo the privilege of holding her own baby in her arms than to have her baby murdered. That is discretion, and that also indicates a wise ruler who judges in behalf of the poor.

The poor here does not necessarily refer to those who are poverty-stricken. It refers to those who could be without representation if a king did not have compassion enough upon his people to want to meet their needs honestly. Righteousness does have power where the government is concerned.

The Power of Righteousness in the City

We discover in this chapter not only a discussion of the power of righteousness in government statewide and nationwide, but we discover the power of righteousness in the city. Yes, a few righteous people within a city can make all of the difference in the world, first, by staying of judgment . Notice verse 8:

Proverbs 29:

8 Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.

The scornful men and the righteous men are used in opposition one with the other as far as the thought of the context is concerned. The righteous man is a wise man. He has received wisdom from God. Scornful men here are men who scorn the authority of God. They scorn the law of God. We are told in the Scripture that such men can bring a city into a snare—that is, into captivity. The captivity described in the light of the last part of the verse is the wrath of God. Scornful men can bring the wrath of God down upon a city, but the wise men who are in the city are able to turn away wrath.

You recall the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah. When God was ready to visit those cities with wrath, He could not do it until He told His faithful friend, Abraham, and then He could not do it until every righteous person within the city was gone. Had there been enough righteous people in the city, they could have stayed the wrath of God against it, but as long as there were any righteous people there, the wrath of God could not fall. Since there were not enough to stay the hand of God, the righteous people had to be moved and, as we pointed out to you in our last lesson when we were talking about practical righteousness in relation to the Body of Christ, we have a practical effect in that we are staying, slowing down, hindering, the mystery of iniquity which was already working. You recall that we pointed out to you that we are hindering that and will hinder it until we, the Body of Christ, are caught up out of the world. When we are, then iniquity will work without any restraint whatsoever and will culminate in the revelation of the Antichrist.

We suggest something else to you concerning righteous people within a city and that is, they are able to bring forth justice. You see the injustices that we see about us every day that people are blaming the past generation for. They are not new. They have been with us since Eden, and they will continue with us until Jesus comes because they are the result of sin. They are the result of the depraved human heart that will not subject itself to God. Neither can it obey the law of God, as Paul said in his letter to the Romans. Notice verse 16:

Proverbs 29:

16 When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.

The more wicked people, the more transgression. The more transgression, the more wicked people. It is an endless and a vicious cycle. That is the reason, even though we do not believe that it is possible to legislate righteousness—that is, make people righteous by passing laws and having them put on the statute books of the land—we do believe that legislation that will curb the progress of evil is good because the more evil, the more transgressors; the more transgressors, the more evil. I repeat, it is an endless, vicious cycle.

If you will look at verse 16 again, you will notice that the statement is made that the righteous shall see their fall. This does not mean that the righteous will outlive the wicked. That isn't true. It does not mean that if you are righteous, you will live and if you are wicked, you will die. I think you have already been puzzled many times why God would take some righteous child of His who could do a great deal for Him, and take that individual out of this world and leave what we would, with our human viewpoint, refer to as a wicked, no good, no account so-and-so.

There is no promise in the Word that the righteous will outlive the wicked. This does not refer to that. It refers to the fact that the righteous shall see, in the sense of a distinctive, definite promise, the fall of the wicked if righteousness is exercised. That is the point. It isn't, I repeat, a matter of the righteous staying victorious, though humbled, and then eventually being vindicated as righteous, for many, many times the righteous are not vindicated. It is a fallacy to be telling folks that God will vindicate the righteous. He has never made a promise to do that on this earth.

By and by, He will vindicate the righteous, but it won't be necessarily in your tenure of life. But because of the power of righteousness, righteous people can see the defeat of the wicked. I am of the opinion that all too long we have neglected the exercise of the power of righteousness which is ours and have bowed in defeat to much with which we do not agree because we have the mistaken idea that the righteous have our citizenship in Heaven and consequently, have no right upon this earth at all. There is power in righteousness to stay judgment that might come upon a city. There is power in righteousness to bring forth justice and recognize that which needs to be done.

We are living in a day when we are hearing a great deal of talk about social justice. There are two extremes. So-called liberals think that that is all Christianity is for—the exercise of social justice. Then, there are fundamentalists or conservative, orthodox people, who shy away from any interest in social justice whatsoever and declare that we have no responsibility for that. The Bible is not a book of extremes. It speaks of moderation. In the Bible, there is always presented man's way, which is always extreme, and God's way, which is always exactly right. There is a power of righteousness that will work in connection with social concerns and social justice. Look with me at verse 7, as we have presented to us the concern of the righteous for the poor. Notice verse 7:

Proverbs 29:

7 The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.

So-called Concern of the Unregenerated for the Poor

Notice what is said about the wicked: “…they regardeth not to know it.” A better rendering would be, “They avoid knowing the facts.” You can be sure that whatever concern is expressed for the poor on the part of unsaved people, it is a token expression. I am sometimes amused at the efforts that are made on the part of unregenerated men to help the poor—their various balls and guilds and what have you. It is not that I am opposed to one thing above another; it is simply that I am amused at all of the effort and all of the energy that is put forth into these things, expenses that when the same amount of money applied to the need could be used in the actual alleviation of the need; but you see, there is no glamour to that. There is really no concern for the poor. The so-called concern for the poor on the part of the unregenerated provides a vehicle for their own glory of self and their own enjoyment of things. Look again at verse 7:

Concern of the Righteous for the Poor

Proverbs 29:

7 The righteous considereth the cause of the poor…

This better could be translated or rendered, “The righteous show a deep concern for the poor.” As a matter of fact, the Bible teaches that the concern that righteous people ought to show for the poor is such that if there is no such concern manifested in your life, individuals who are looking for indications of a relationship to God in your life, have a right to question whether or not you really know the Lord if you don't have a genuine concern in your heart for the poor.

Turn to the first epistle of John, for I believe that in all of the statements in the Scripture in which this truth which I am leaving with you is presented, John presents it in a way that simply cannot be denied—something that causes us to stop and think about concern for others. In I John, notice chapter 2, verse 3:

I John 2:

3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

Then John goes on in his epistle to give several illustrations of what he means about keeping the Word, keeping the commandment of God. He is not thinking about keeping the Ten Commandments, as we commonly refer to them, but the commandment of a genuine concern for the poor. In chapter 3, verse 14:

I John 3:

14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 [Notice carefully now]But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

If there is no concern in your heart for the poor, anyone has a right to say, “How does the love of God dwell in you?” John is very, very pointed here. He does not speak only of a concern without activity that many folk express. Unregenerated people are always getting on the bandwagon about the sad conditions in ghettos, and they don't do anything about it except make their condition worse, so John says in verse 18:

I John 3:

18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

When he says, “My little children…” he is not speaking of little folk. Really he is saying, “My newly born-again ones, you who have just come to know Christ, let's don't just love in words. Let's don't just talk about how much we love those who are less fortunate than we, but let's love in deed. Let's really do something about the need about which we speak.”

Burden-bearing for the Souls of of the Unrighteousness

There is manifested through the power of righteousness not only a concern for the poor, but something that should go hand-in-hand with it—concern for the souls of men. You see, born-again people are not only concerned about material needs; they are concerned about spiritual welfare as well. It is not that born-again people want to simply fill stomachs; they want to save souls.

Go back to Proverbs, chapter 29, verse 10:

Proverbs 29:

10 The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.

On the surface that might seem like an emphasis upon retaliation when you read: “The bloodthirsty hate the upright, so the upright seeks the soul of the man who hates him,” with the idea of getting even or what have you; but this word seek is a word that speaks of concern, burden bearing for the soul of the unrighteous. Righteous people do not spend their time in retaliation. They are concerned about the wicked people who hate them.

If you have had encounters with wicked people, you may have been angry, you may have been hurt, you may have been disgusted. But if you have the love of God in your heart, you are going to find a concern operating for their spiritual welfare, and you are not going to rest until you know that you have done all that you can for them.

That is why if the Church hadn't abdicated their responsibility to take care of material needs, the government would not have become the monstrosity that it is. Sometimes we sit in criticism on the government, and there is plenty to criticize, but we might ought to remember that we as believers have failed and are seemingly unconcerned about our responsibility. It is not the government's responsibility to meet the needs of people who need material things. It is your responsibility and mine, and there should be a concern, not in the sense of the liberal emphasis upon the conversion of the world by alleviating the needs of the human race, but an emphasis upon alleviating the needs of the human race that we might have an open door to bring them to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Righteousness in the Home

We called to your attention the power of righteousness in the government, in the city in relation to social justice, and now in the home . Yes, righteousness has real power in the home. The enthronement of righteousness in the home will determine the welfare of your children. It is all well and good for us to talk about the sad hour in which we live, how dangerous it is to bring children into a world like this, and all of the responsibilities that they face; but Beloved, I say to you on the authority of the Word of God that I am convinced from personal experience that you don't need to be concerned about the kind of world in which your children live if righteousness is on the throne, for your children will be prepared for the kind of world in which they live if righteousness has been enthroned.

I want to show you that from this chapter, so look at verse 3. I suggest to you that when righteousness is on the throne, children have a love for wisdom, and when they have a love for wisdom, they are not a concern for their parents. Notice:

Proverbs 29:

3 Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.

I think the last part of the verse speaks for itself. A good illustration is found in the prodigal son who wound up in the hog pen. He asked his father for that which was coming to him eventually when his father died. His father gave it to him, and he spent all of his substance in riotous living and came to the end of himself. You see, that boy had a wealthy father who gave him everything but the installation of wisdom within his heart.

In the first part of verse 3, you will notice the statement, “Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father.” The child who loves wisdom rejoices his earthly father. We will take the time to verify, as we have emphasized so much in our study of the book of Proverbs that wisdom does not refer to earthly knowledge. It refers abstractly to the Word of God and in a personified fashion to the Lord Jesus Christ. Many renderings of the book capitalize this word wisdom . We could read, “Whoso loveth Jesus Christ, whoso loveth the Word of God, whoso loveth the written Word, whoso loveth the living Word, will rejoice the heart of his father,” and that cannot be denied.

I think all parents would rejoice if in some fashion all children could be born with the wisdom of which I speak. Wouldn't it be wonderful? We would have no problem at all. But, they are not born with that wisdom. They are born with a heart that is deceitful and desperately wicked. They go astray from the womb as soon as they are born. God, recognizing that in this chapter, would not leave a half truth. He teaches the whole truth, so He speaks to you about the installation of wisdom, and your responsibility related thereto in verse 15. Notice:

Proverbs 29:

15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

You see, this wisdom that will rejoice your heart is instilled in that child's heart by the parents. God doesn't just naturally give it. You may abdicate your position as a parent, and if you do, then you can't expect God to ignore your abdication. You have the responsibility with the rod and with reproof to give this wisdom. You see the alternative: “The child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” A child who has never experienced the rod (corporal punishment), verbal reproof, will not know (Listen carefully to what I am saying.) the Word of God, nor will he know the Lord Jesus Christ.

No one can predict the grace of God, so any statement as general as I have made would have some exceptions, but the principle laid down in the Word of God is that your child's relationship to God and the Word is determined by the discipline you exercise in your home.

“Oh,” somebody says, “you don't mean to say that you can whip a child and say, ‘Accept Jesus Christ,' do you?” No. No, you can't do that, but if you don't teach your child discipline, if you do not teach your child to bow his will to yours, he will never bow his will to God. The rod and reproof give wisdom. Wisdom in the life of a child will rejoice your heart, but if you want to rejoice in the lives of your children, then instill the wisdom of which I speak.

Emphasis Upon the Need for Correction

Look at verse 17:

Proverbs 29:

17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

Here is not an empty emphasis upon something else. There is the emphasis upon the need of correction. Not only is there the positive training by the rod and the Word, but there is the need for correction.

There is something that concerns me about parents in Bible-teaching churches, and I come in contact with this in many places as I go to conferences. There is somehow the feeling on the part of many parents in Bible-teaching churches, “If I can just get my child under the sound of the Word of God, everything is going to be all right.” I have had parents say to me, “There is one thing about it. I have my child in a Bible- teaching church.”

Thank God for that, and that is where you ought to have him, but you had better not sit back on your laurels and rest and say, “There is nothing more for me to do.” You need to keep your child under constant observation, not an oppressive observation that makes them uncomfortable, but an unnoticed observation; and when you see a life or an activity in the life that is inconsistent with the Word of God that is being taught, you might as well recognize that though the Word has been taught, the attitude of reception has not been evident, and though the Word has been taught, the Word has not been received.

Beloved, unless the Word of God is received, no matter how faithfully it has been taught, it will not get the job done. I hope you will never make the error that I have heard some parents make, saying to the child in question, “You know better than that. You have been taught better than that.” The truth may have been taught, but he may not have received it. Watch for those areas where correction is needed, and notice the truth of verse 17 again:

Proverbs 29:

17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

Notice verse 19:

Proverbs 29:

19 A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.

At first thought, you might think that I have departed from our area of discussion talking about righteousness in the home and the children. Here I read a verse about servants. Atually, in the Word, the training of servants and the training of children is intermingled because many servants were looked upon as the child of the household. We are talking about slaves and not hired help, and many slaves were born in the households and were trained from very young children for the area of service in which they officiated, so the principles of the training of servants and the training of children often go hand-in-hand.

Here is something that many of us as parents are prone to forget. Look at the verse again and, for the sake of discussion, let us substitute the word child . Notice:

Proverbs 29:

19 A child will not be corrected by words [alone, for that is the thought of the verse]: for though he understand he will not answer [will not obey].

I wonder if you have not at some time or other, as I think most of us have, said to a child who had not fulfilled a certain desire that we had expressed, “Why didn't you do that? I told you,” then seek for some explanation as to why. We might even say, “Didn't you hear what I said?” Let's face the fact that they did hear and they did understand, but they did not obey, the simple reason being that they have the same depraved nature in them that you have in you; and that nature sometimes takes precedent, so instead of walking in the Spirit, they walk in the flesh. They refuse to do what you say simply because of the depraved nature with which they are born. Therefore, it is never wise for a parent to assume that because he has told a child to do a certain thing, he will always do it.

I have had parents say, “I know my child wouldn't do thus-and-so. I told him never to do that. I know that he wouldn't.” Well, I would like to think that he wouldn't, and I would be gratified to know that he didn't, but I am not going to be foolish enough to think that just because I told him, he won't do it, or just because I told him, he will do it, as the case may be. Take this truth home to your hearts and recognize that if righteousness is on the throne in the home and the procedures enunciated in this chapter are followed, it has tremendous power.

Don't Pamper Your Children

There is one other verse that I would like for you to notice in this chapter along this line. Notice verse 21:

Proverbs 29:

21 He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.

You read that and on the surface that sounds great, doesn't it? Why, he will love him just as his son loves him. But really that is not a good rendering at all because the phrase, “He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child,” could better be expressed by our English word pamper . “He that pampereth his servant from a child shall have a servant who wants the son to wait on him.” The Living Bible rendering suggests, “Pamper a servant from childhood and he will expect you to treat him as a son.”

What does this have to do with children? Well, I can't say enough to emphasize the fact that you ought to be kind to your children, and you ought to do everything that you possibly can for them. I don't think that you can be too good to your children. I don't think that you should withhold from your children anything that is within your hand to give them, but I don't think that you ought to pamper them. If you think that I am not making a distinction, you meditate on that because I don't have time to go into detail about it. Don't pamper your children. Don't mollycoddle them. Don't make them think that you owe them what you do for them, but out of love, do as much for them as you can. If you want children who will bring real joy into your life, then be sure that righteousness is on the throne.

The Power of Righteousness in the Individual Life

Let's consider The Power of Righteousness in the Individual Life . Yes, righteousness in the individual life has a power in our association. Look at verse 27:

Proverbs 29:

27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.

That says volumes. If you are in fellowship, you are going to be disgusted with the activities of unjust people, and if you can enjoy constant association with unsaved people (I'm not talking about contact. I'm talking about constant association.), there is a possibility that your fellowship has been short-circuited. Look at the last part of the verse again:

Proverbs 29:

27 …and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.

If wicked people want to be around you all of the time and enjoy your fellowship all of the time, it is very possible that righteousness is not on the throne and the Spirit is not speaking through your life as He ought to speak, for the Word very plainly declares that there is no fellowship between light and darkness. There is no fellowship between Christ and the devil. It simply cannot be.

There is power of righteousness evidenced in the blessings that are brought out in the life of individual believers. Notice verse 23:

Proverbs 29:

23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

What has all of this to do with righteousness? It is all bound up in the one word pride , and the phrase, humble in spirit . A man who has imputed to him the righteousness of Christ is humble, and because he is humble, he is the recipient of all of the blessings of God.

Someone has rendered the verse: “Pride ends in a fall, while humility brings honor.” If you are a believer and pride begins to take precedence over humility, you are already walking in the flesh, consequently have grieved the Spirit, and you are out of fellowship.

The Power of Righteousness as Seen in Discipline

I would like for you to notice with me one other thought in regard to the power of righteousness in the individual life. I have expressed it by the words, the power of righteousness as seen in discipline . You see, God never bothers other people's children, and you don't have any business to. You don't have any business whipping your neighbor's children. You might have a right to send them home, but you don't have any right to punish them. They don't belong to you. God never punishes the devil's children, but He does discipline His own. If the disciplining hand of God has rested in your life, it is a good sign. It is a sign that you belong to God and that righteousness has been imputed.

Look with me at verse 24:

Proverbs 9:

24 Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.

The language of this verse does not make the verse very clear, so let me suggest to you another rendering: “A man who assists a thief must really hate himself for he knows the consequences, but does it anyway.”

This matter of assisting a thief is just an illustration. If you are a believer acquainted with the Word of God, you know the consequences of disobedience to the Word. If you do what is wrong, knowing the consequences of such behavior, you are a very foolish individual. You must hate your own soul if you do that because if you have been well taught, you know that you cannot escape the disciplining hand of God. Look at verse 22, where we read:

Proverbs 9:

22 An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

Spirit-indwelt believers, according to Ephesians, chapter 4, are instructed that they must not give way to wrath. Oh, they are told in that same passage that there are occasions when they must be angry, and if they are not righteously indignant, they are sinning when they are not; but they must not give way to that ungovernable wrath that robs them of the possession of their faculties and causes them to do much that will damage many. That is the reason the Spirit of God says, “A furious man aboundeth in transgressions.” It is not only a matter of anger; it is a matter of all of the things that grow out of that anger, and they do abound. Individuals who are so careless as to let wrath occupy the throne of their lives can expect the disciplining hand of God as a result. Notice verse 9:

Proverbs 29:

9 If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.

The individual who contends with a man in rebellion against God, whether he loses his temper or laughs and smiles, is wasting his time and laying a snare for himself and laying himself open to the discipline of God. The whole thought of discipline in this chapter climaxes in verse 1. Notice:

Proverbs 29:

1 He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

If God finds it necessary to reprove you and consistently reprove you, and you do not respond to the discipline, God will cut you off and that without remedy. Very pointedly put, it means that God will take you out of this life. God deals in mercy and He deals in grace, and it is amazing how patient God is, but there comes a time when God says, “I have heard all that I am going to hear about this particular matter.” The end has come and death occurs.

This verse has been much misused to frighten people and force them into a decision for Christ that they are not ready to make. This verse has been quoted as indicating that this service may be the last service you will be in, and you had better do something about what God wants you to do because He is going to kill you after the benediction is over.

That is not what this verse means. It is referring to the disciplining hand of God in the life of the believer. We have been talking about the power of righteousness. I have mentioned that it is imputed, but I would like to suggest to you two areas through which righteousness comes into the individual life.

Think with me for a moment about the power of righteousness that is brought into our lives through the Word of God. The Word of God has a life-giving quality that provides the power of righteousness as is indicated in verse 18. Notice the words:

Proverbs 29:

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

I have said to you many times that one of the reasons I know the Bible is true is that it has survived much poor preaching. No other work in the world would still be in existence with the misinterpretation and the misapplication that has been placed upon it. I don't know how many sermons I have read on this text. Let it be used if you want to start a building program. “What is wrong with you people? Why don't you have vision? We are going to go out of business if you don't have it.”

I have heard this text expounded when there is a need for an increased mission program. “Where there is no vision, the people perish. You people have lost your vision. If you don't increase your missionary giving, we are going to fold up.”

Beloved, that is poor preaching, for it has nothing to do with a vision like that. What this verse is saying is, “Where there is no revelation from the Lord, the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The word law and the word vision are in apposition one to the other, and it is a reference to the Word of God. Where there is no teaching of the Word of God, people will perish. That is the reason we have many, many people who have their names on church rolls and never go to church. They have dried up spiritually because there has been no real ministry of the Word. You enlarge upon that in your own thinking as much as you will.

Look at verse 13 as I suggest to you that the enlightenment that is given through the Word is always given without partiality on the part of God. You read in verse 13:

Proverbs 29:

13 The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.

This word deceitful could better be translated by the word rich because the two are in contrast as well as the meaning of the literal word. The suggestion is that it does not matter about your station in life. God is going to meet your needs. He enlightens the eyes of every individual. You don't have to be important in order for God to give you the truth of the Word. He has no partiality. All there ever needs to be is a desire on the part of the individual to know the Word. Any individual who prays the prayer of the Psalmist when he looks into the Word: “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law,” will be rewarded, for God never sends the hungry away empty.

May I suggest to you that the power of righteousness will become a reality in our lives through faith, and it will work. Exercise its power through faith by deliverance from snares. Snares is a word that is common to the Old Testament describing the attacks which are made upon the righteous by the enemy. Notice verse 25:

Proverbs 29:

25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

This individual made righteous, exercising his faith, is delivered from the snare of fear. Perchance there are some of you here who have never been ensnared by this weapon of Satan, and it is a weapon. Paul tells us in his letter to the Hebrews that Satan keeps many, many men in bondage all their life long through fear. You can be delivered from that fear by putting your trust in the Lord—that is, by exercising your faith in Him—and the snare of fear will not be able to hold you.

The Snare of Flattery

There is mentioned in this chapter the snare of flattery. Look at verse 26:

Proverbs 29:

26 Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment cometh from the LORD.

Oftentimes, if there is a person of influence and you feel the need of his help, you fall into this snare of the devil by flattering him to accomplish your own ends. No believer ever needs to do that. All he ever needs to do is wait patiently for God's judgment because every man's judgment will come from the Lord in due season.

Pathetic indeed is the believer who spends his time flattering mere men in order to accomplish his own desires, when those desires would be fulfilled freely from the hand of God if he would but wait.

What does this all have to do with faith? You have to exercise your faith to wait. It is so easy to find an open door or open one and go through it, exercising human instrumentality instead of waiting upon the Lord.

A Snare of Sin

The last thing that I would bring to your attention in verse 6, I have called a snare of sin :

Proverbs 29:

6 In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.

The suggestion is that the reason men sin is they fall into the snare of the devil, but the righteous don't need to worry about that if they exercise their faith through the Word. We learned one proverb in our study. Perhaps you remember it: “In vain is the snare set in the sight of a bird.” You want to catch a bird and the bird sees you set the snare. You have wasted your time. But if you are grounded in the Word and exercise your faith in the Word, God will let you see the snare and you don't need to fall into the snare of sin. Righteousness does have power if you are willing to exercise it.


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