April 2007

The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it. (Pro.29:4)

God’s word is truth (Jn.17:17; Psa.119:128,142,151,160) and his righteous judgments endure forever (Psa.119:160). The statement of Proverbs 29:4 hit me this morning, especially the part about the land being overthrown by the king that receives gifts.

Judgment is good for a land, to ward off evil and evildoers and establish laws by which the people are governed. Generally speaking, the harsher the penalties for doing evil, the less of it there will be. In modern day America, judgment is not scarce. The judgment, however, is tending much more against good than it is against evil. Those who believe God and his word which condemns evil for what it is are judged offensive, intolerant and evil themselves.

The Bible even talks about this. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa.5:20) Such people preach the gospel of tolerance: we must be tolerant of others, including those who believe and do differently than ourselves. This gospel, however, is ripe with hypocrisy, for it will not tolerate any who do not tolerate some.

The person who believes that God is Almighty, that he is sovereign over men and his law is supreme is not tolerated because God’s law does not tolerate evil. Such a person views evil for what it is and may not be afraid to say it (and God certainly has no problem with a person speaking ill of evil). Since that person is not tolerant of that evil he violates the gospel of tolerance and is himself judged evil by those who ascribe to that gospel. The likely accusation would be in this vein, “You should not judge another.”

The gospel of tolerance is a gospel of hypocrisy.

Judgment is made one way or another. We should judge, but we should judge according to the law of God, calling evil evil and good good (Lev.19:15; Dt.25:1; Jn.7:24). Such judgment establishes the land. When gifts (of money, power, possessions, etc.) are given to the rulers of the land it is the judgment that is sold. Evil begins to run rampant and then the land is overthrown.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. ( 1Pe.3:15-16)

sanctify – To set apart for sacred use; consecrate. (American Heritage Dictionary)

ready – completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use ( Dictionary.com, based on Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

always – 1) at all times; invariably 3) at any time; in any event (American Heritage Dictionary)

answer – a spoken or written reply or response to a question, request, letter, etc. ( Dictionary.com, based on Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

every – being one of a group or series taken collectively; each (Dictionary.com)

reason – 1. a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc.: the reason for declaring war.
2. a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action.
3. the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences.
4. sound judgment; good sense.
5. normal or sound powers of the mind; sanity.
6. Logic. a premise of an argument.

hope – 1. A wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.
2. Something that is hoped for or desired:
3. Archaic. Trust; confidence.

meekness – humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others. Obsolete. gentle; kind

fear -1. a. A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger.
b. A state or condition marked by this feeling: living in fear.

Note the context of this passage (vv.12-17). Peter is exhorting the saints (1Pe.1:1-2) to be all of one mind, having compassion, being courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing but rather blessing; and that he that will love life and see good days should refrain his lips from evil and eschew it, doing good and seeking peace. The reason for these things is because the Lord is over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.Then he asks the rhetorical question, “And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” But even if you do suffer for doing good, be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”It is not impossible for people who are living according to the word of God, who are walking in fellowship with him, in the light as he is in the light, to suffer for it at the hands of wicked men who have not faith. In fact anyone who has read the gospels and the book of Acts have read eyewitness accounts of wicked men rising up to kill such people. It happened a lot during Christ’s ministry and the ministry of the apostles and it still happens and it will continue to happen (2Ti.3:12). Peter says that if we suffer for righteousness’ sake we ought to be happy and not afraid of their terror nor troubled. Why on earth should we be happy about this and why shouldn’t we be afraid of their terror and be troubled? Because we’re suffering not for doing evil, but for doing good, and any child of God should rejoice to do good even if it means he suffers for it. In fact it should motivate him all the more to do good.

Paul and Silas, when they were cast into prison for nothing more than preaching the gospel openly, did not plead with the jailer or the arresting authority or cry lamentably in their cell. They rather sang hymns loudly and praised the name of the Lord (Acts 16:25). They knew that they were doing good and the word of the Lord was going forth and obviously having an impact on the people. They also knew that the God they preached and worshiped is the same God who delivered a faithful man named Daniel from the mouth of lions when he was cast into the midst of their den because he simply refused to stop praying and worshiping God according to a foolish law that had been passed in the land. And what do you know? Paul and Silas were delivered from that prison the same night they were cast into it. (Acts 16:25-26) And the jailer who nearly took his own life for fear of being killed for failing to keep the prisoners secure ended up repenting of his sins and being baptized. So their imprisonment fell out to the conversion of at least one sinner, which only gave them more cause for rejoicing.

This brings us full-circle. The jailer asked Paul and Silas a question: “What must I do to be saved?” At that question Paul and Silas told him with all authority to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. The point is that they had sanctified the Lord God in their hearts and they were ready to give an answer to every man that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them with meekness and fear… It was clear to this jailer that these man had a great hope. Who in their right mind sings praises to God when cast into prison? That’s just it — only those who really are in their right mind (that is, who have the mind of Christ, 1Co.2:16) would ever do such a thing. It was obvious to the jailer that these men had a great hope and he wanted to know what he could do to be saved like they were: he ASKED THEM and they ANSWERED HIM. They responded to his gospel inquiry (whether he even knew he was making a gospel inquiry or not — they knew) and spake to him the word of the Lord. They didn’t just tell him to believe and be saved, they preached the gospel to him, starting with the simple answer to his question and expounding upon it.

This is the duty of every Christian. Peter is not writing only to ordained ministers, but to saints in general (1Pe.1:1-2) and to such people he makes the statement that we should be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us with meekness and fear.

In my Bible reading this morning I read Proverbs chapter 14. I made a few interesting observations. As is typically the case when reading the Bible, I gleaned new things this morning that I had not gleaned in the past.
First, I noted verses 3 and 23 because I just recently started noting verses that deal with the mouth, lips, tongue, etc., especially with respect to how they relate to wisdom. The general rule, as I’ve noted previously, is that a wise man tends to hold his peace whereas the foolish man tends to utter many words (even about things of which he is generally ignorant).

  • Pro.14:3 In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.
  • Pro.14:23 In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.

Then I took note of these verses

  • Pro.14:15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
  • Pro.14:18 The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

The Bible describes those who generally lack wisdom and understanding as simple. This verse points out a general characteristic of the simple: they believe whatever they hear. This seems to be particularly true with respect to religious teaching. Many people will believe whatever comes from the mouth of a so-called godly man whether or not it is backed up by scripture. This is not good. However godly a man might be, however ordained of God a minister might be, he is still a man and subject to (if not altogether prone to) error. This is why it is important for ministers to study diligently to show themselves approved unto God so they need not be ashamed because they rightly divide the word of truth (2Ti.2:15). It is likewise important for those under the sound of the minister’s voice to search the scriptures daily, whether those things be so (Acts 17:11). Despite what some Catholic popes might claim, God’s ministers are not infallible or incapable of teaching any error. It is not a wise man who believes every word he hears. We are responsible to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1Th.5:21)

I suppose the reason many people do not do according to 2Ti.2:15 and Acts 17:11 et. al. is that it requires work. God’s book is voluminous and divided: that is, not all of the instruction on a given topic is given in one place, but rather scattered throughout the sixty-six books of the Bible. It requires much work to rightly divide the word of truth, to properly compare spiritual things with spiritual (1Co.2:13). Proving all things so that we may hold fast that which is good cannot be done without effort. That command is not limited to gospel ministers: it was written by Paul to the church of the Thessalonians and thus applies to “all the holy brethren” (1Th.5:27). But the simple don’t like to work that hard. They’d much rather just believe whatever they hear, trusting that the minister has done his work properly so that he’s teaching the truth. And in some (if not many) cases, they aren’t even concerned if it is the truth so long as it suits their fancy. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2Ti.2:4-5) God may even “send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Th.2:11-12)

This is a collection of verses from the Bible dealing with the mouth, the tongue, the lips, etc. The Bible says a lot about these things, mainly concerning the importance of guarding our speech. The general rule of thumb seems to be that we should speak less and listen more (Pro.17:27-28; Jas.1:19-20; Pro.10:19), especially when the words we’re listening to are from wise counsel (which, by the way, comes from the Lord). This list is not exhaustive: it is a collection I hope to build over time as I study. These verses are listed in no particular order.

  • Pro.13:3 He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but be that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
  • Pro.13:5 A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.
  • Pro.10:19-21 19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.20 The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.21 The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.
  • Pro.17:27-28 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
  • Jas.1:19-20 Wherefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
  • Jas.3:1-10 1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
    For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
    Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
    Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
    Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
    And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
    7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
    8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
    9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
    10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
  • Pro.10:32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.
  • Pro.11:9 An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
  • Pro.10:11 The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
  • Pro.10:13-14 13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.14 Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
  • Pro.12:22 Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
  • Pro.14:3 In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.
  • Pro.14:23 In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
  • Pro.15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
  • Pro.15:7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.
  • Pro.15:14 The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
  • Pro15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
    (Note the exclamatory nature of this particular verse. I believe there are only a few places in the scriptures where exclamatory statements are made, and this is one of them.)
  • Pro.15:28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
  • Pro.16:1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.
  • Pro.16:10 A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.
  • Pro.16:13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings: and they love him that speaketh right.
  • Pro.16:21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.
  • Pro.16:23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.
  • Pro.16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
  • Pro.16:26 He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.
  • Pro.16:27 An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.
  • Pro.16:28 A forward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
  • Pro.16:29-30 A violent man enticeth his neighbor, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.
  • Pro.17:4 A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.
  • Pro.17:7 Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.
  • Pro.17:20 He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.
  • Pro.18:4 The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.
  • Pro.18:6 A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.
  • Pro.18:7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
  • Pro.18:8 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
  • (Pro.18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.)
  • Pro.18:20 A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.
  • Pro.18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
  • Pro.19:1 Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
  • Pro.20:15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
  • Pro.20:19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
  • 1Pe.3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.
  • Pro.21:23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
  • Pro.22:11 He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.
  • Pro.22:14 The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
  • Pro.22:17-18 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
  • Pro.23:9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.
  • Pro.23:12 Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.
  • Pro.24:1-2 Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
  • Pro.24:7 Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.
  • Pro.24:26 Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.
  • Pro.24:28-29 Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause; and deceive not with thy lips. Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.
  • Pro.25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
  • Pro.25:23 The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.
  • Pro.26:7 The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
  • Pro.26:9 As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
  • Pro.26:23 Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
  • Pro.26:24-25 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.
  • Pro.26:28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
  • Pro.27:14 He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.
  • Pro.28:23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.
  • Pro.29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
  • Pro.29:20 Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
  • Pro.31:9 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
  • Pro.31:26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
  • Pro.4:24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
  • Pro.5:3-6 For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.