Proverbs 5:21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths.
No doubt you’ve examined the chart of heart states and have begun to take a look at your own heart. As we look at these heart states, we begin to desire to move our hearts closer to the heart of God. Does the Word provide us with a path that will let us take giant steps toward Him? Can we identify the steps (or levers) that move our hearts closer to the heart of God? Can we take actions to find wisdom more quickly?
First, let’s look at some of the verbs associated with attaining the various heart states:
- Seek: Knowledge (Proverbs 18:1, Ecclesiastes 1:13; 7:25, I Corinthians 1:22)
- Find/Get: Understanding (Proverbs 3:4, 13; 19:8)
- Sow (plant): Righteousness (Proverbs 11:18; Isaiah 61:11, Hosea 10:12, II Corinthians 9:10)
- See/Find: Man’s Wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:13)
- Given/put in the heart: God’s Wisdom – always given by God (I Chronicles 22:12, II Chronicles 1:10, 12; Job 38:36; Proverbs 2:6; 28:15; Ecclesiastes 2:26; Daniel 2:23, Luke 21:15; I Corinthians 12:8; Ephesians 1:17; James 1:5; II Peter 3:15)
Even the verbs God used to explain all of this to us indicate the heart states where we hold responsibility. I particularly like the use of the word “sow” relative to righteousness. We do the right thing as one planting a seed with an expectation of a fruitful harvest. Note we may see/find wisdom (general or generational truths), but only God grants His wisdom; and, we know He examines our heart as He makes His decision.
I think the GPS must be one of the great inventions of this generation. Let’s just say I hate to be lost. I’m the gal who would stop and ask for directions at every turn (and we won’t discuss the many times we have been lost because my husband refused to ask for directions). With the invention of GPS, and its subsequent availability on my iPhone and in the dashboard of the car, there is no more need for arguments or wasted hours pursuing wrong paths. If we have a destination in mind, I want to get there quickly and on time. Who wants to be like the Israelites wandering around and around in the desert? Let’s just get on down the road to the Promised Land. So it is only natural as I looked at this chart to turn to God and ask Him for directions straight to wisdom. How can we move from one heart state to the next? Are there things we can do or steps or levers we can take to move our hearts closer to the heart of God?
As I studied, God illuminated the path. I am excited to share with you the things I found that move us from one heart state to the next.
Note: We are going to cover a lot of ground—the levers between our seven heart states. Don’t get lost. There’s a chart at the end of the chapter that will bring this all together. So hold your place here and take a look at the chart. Then flip back and let’s build the chart together. We want to understand what God is looking for in our hearts, so we’ll take our time with this one; Growth takes time.
Lever from Foolishness to Knowledge: The Fear of the Lord
Proverbs 1:7 (NLV): The fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (the KJV describes the fear of the Lord as the beginning of knowledge.)
In Proverbs 1:7 Solomon highlights the dividing line between the two paths: knowledge (movement toward God, the fear of God) and foolishness (movement away from God, despising wisdom and instruction. The despising of instruction and discipline indicates a prideful attitude, a leaning on self vs. dependence on God). The one who seeks knowledge has an attitude of humility, realizes and acknowledges he or she needs help. This is the tipping point or the crossroads we each face. Will we seek God’s will for our life or will we turn to our own ways, deciding we can handle things on our own, attempting only doable feats and safe roads? Will we humble ourselves before God (James 4:10)?
Proverbs 1:7 also provides an exciting find. Now we see a dividing point between foolishness (the beginning of a backward/downward spiral) and knowledge (the beginning of a forward/upward spiral). The fear of the Lord is our first lever or right step toward wisdom. It is certainly a defining moment when one begins to move away from foolishness and toward a knowledge of an eternal, awesome, mighty God.
If one is a fool (not acknowledging God exists), wicked (an intentional sinner), or a scorner (establishing oneself as God) then the fear of the Lord will help him or her decide to turn around, to seek a new direction, and begin a journey toward the heart of God. First stop: gain a little knowledge.
Proverbs 15:33 (KJV) provides another insight into the fear of the Lord: “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.” The instruction of wisdom is included in Proverbs 1 (KJV) as one of the seven types of knowledge. Here you see the fear of God in combination with humility and the seeking of knowledge; it’s the turning point. It is not an overwhelming fear as we might think of dread, but an understanding that you might not have all the answers. Perhaps you have come face to face with the fact you need God and need to know more about Him. So, your first step might be to search the Scriptures.
My mom worked during my high school years and would typically leave my sister and me a note on the kitchen table listing the things she wanted done when she arrived home. We could ignore the note and do whatever we wanted. We knew, however, she would walk through the door at five-thirty, expecting we had followed her instructions. We possessed enough fear in our hearts, driving us to pick up her note and read the instructions, so we could be ready when she arrived. Pleading ignorance wasn’t a good reason for not accomplishing what she desired; she left us instructions. We knew we would face her soon. Even though she was a mild-mannered, loving mother, we didn’t want to see her disappointment, or face well-deserved consequences, if we were disobedient.
The same is true of God. Once you know He exists, and you understand He is coming and has left you instructions in His Word, let’s hope enough fear of the Lord comes into your heart so you dust off your Bible and begin seeking knowledge. Maybe you show up for church on time, even Sunday School. And, maybe you squeeze out time in your week to attend a Bible study. Next thing you know you will be in the Word daily and find yourself in your closet on your knees before Him. Too many times we focus on God’s attribute of love and diminish the fact that He is the righteous judge. While He gave Himself for us and willingly took our place in death on the cross, there will also be a day when we all stand before Him as judge. Now is the time for a little fear of the Lord to settle into our hearts so we will not fear Him when we stand before Him at the judgment seat.
Levers from Knowledge to Understanding: knowledge of the Holy One, to depart from evil
LEVER ONE: Knowledge of the Holy One
Proverbs 9:10 also held the definition of a lever from knowledge to understanding: “. . . the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” This is the first of two steps, or levers, to understanding. The first step toward God is learning about God. In our churches today, we describe these individuals as seekers. I like this word because God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (Jer. 29:13; Deut. 4:29). There was an “if” associated with this promise in each of these passages: “if you seek me with all your heart.” A seeker of the knowledge of the Holy One isn’t going to be satisfied with learning religious rituals, fitting in with the religious crowd, or putting their name on a church roll. They are going to begin searching for the knowledge of God as if it was the only thing that could satisfy their soul. Can you say that you know Him? Are you seeking Him with your whole heart? Our quest is a personal relationship with the God of the Universe. Nothing else will do.
LEVER TWO: To depart from evil
Proverbs 28:28 “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”
Here we have the second lever from knowledge to understanding: to depart from evil. Have you ever heard a preacher describe the difference between heaven and hell as 18 inches, the distance from your head to your heart? A head filled with knowledge makes one feel important. The KJV says it “puffs up” (I Corinthians 8:1). While information is good, it does not cleanse. Knowledge needs to move from the head and take root in the heart causing a turning or repentance. If we stay in the Word, it will show us how to clean up our ways so our heart and life get a thorough cleansing. God promises His word will not return void; it will have an impact on our lives. What we need is a heart that departs from evil out of repentance, a genuine heart change.
The definition of depart from means “to go away from, to leave.” Doesn’t this describe the new man, a man with a new direction, or a man who has set his face toward God and His ways? When you know the Holy One (indeed find understanding), you can’t help but fall in love with Him and set the sail of your life’s ship toward Him and away from self. Understanding is more than acknowledging the existence of God, knowing about God, or making his acquaintance. Even Satan knows He exists, knows about Him, and even talks with Him. But we must take the step of truly understanding and accepting God is good and will do good things for us (trusting Him); this will change our heart. We must make a choice: our way or God’s way. And someone whose heart has worked through the knowledge or seeker heart state will choose to turn away from evil.
One summer as my ladies’ group diligently worked through Proverbs, we made a discovery. Each of us accepted a homework assignment. They were my research team as this was a very low-budget project. My dear friend, Nancy Kendrick, accepted the task of searching through Proverbs (indeed all of Scripture) for everything connected to understanding. As she came back and began to share her findings with us, she said, “I think it is obvious understanding is linked to the heart in some special way because every verse I found with understanding in it also had the word heart in it.” (Indeed it was this finding that revealed all of the stages were states of man’s heart. But especially with understanding, it was ALL ABOUT THE HEART).
NOTE: Let’s take a moment and define the heart or soul of man: it is the seat of the mind, will, and emotions. It embodies our emotional state, our decision-making processes, our drive, and motivations.
I’ll list some of the verses we reviewed, so you can see God is definitely making a point about a heart linkage or change at the understanding stage. Certainly, we can conclude it is not by accident these two words are linked in this many verses; God is trying to tell us something.
1 Kings 3:9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
1 Kings 3:12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
1 Kings 4:29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.
Job 17:4 For thou hast hid their heart from understanding: therefore shalt thou not exalt them.
Job 38:36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?
Psalm 49:3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.
Psalm 119:34 Give me understanding, and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart.
Proverbs 2:2 (KJV): So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Proverbs 8:5 (KJV) O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
Proverbs 14:33 Wisdom is enshrined in an understanding heart; wisdom is not found among fools.
Proverbs 18:2: Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. The KJV notes this as a heart problem: “a fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. “
Proverbs 20:5 Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.
Jeremiah 3:15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.
Mark 12:33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.
Ephesians 4:18 (KJV) Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Apparently, a heart change occurs when understanding (the knowledge of the Holy) comes. Studying to gain knowledge is an action that fills one’s head with information. But, when knowledge is of the Holy One, understanding comes. Do you remember when you first learned about Him, when you knew Him for who He really is? Wasn’t it your understanding of Him and His sacrificial love for you that changed your heart and led you to make a decision to place your faith and trust in Him? You finally understood without Him you are nothing; but with Him you could have everything. You understood Him: His plan, His wisdom, and His power. He was all you had been seeking.
Knowing and indeed understanding Him yields the sweet fruit of trust and faith in Him. And Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The Bible says that whatever is in your heart determines what you say (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45). When your heart overflows with love of the Savior, your mouth will confess Him to all men and you will believe He is the resurrected Savior. And, salvation and eternal life become yours. Understanding and accepting the Holy One and His love will make you a new creature (I Cor. 5:17). It will give you a clean heart. You become a child of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords—linked by heart.
What about your heart? Is it a heart filled with the Holy One? Do you have an understanding heart? We know once we reach understanding, a heart change occurs. Thus you can now understand how wisdom (see I Corinthians 1:24—Christ is the wisdom of God) rests in the heart of him who has understanding (a knowledge of the Holy One) (Proverbs 14:33). Indeed, it is the mystery of the Gospel: the indwelling of wisdom and the power of the Spirit, the Holy One within us. Isn’t it exciting to know at the point of salvation, Wisdom took up residence in your heart?
Maybe we should get a sign for our cars saying, WISDOM ON BOARD, to remind us He is available each step of the journey. So many times we are no doubt like the disciples in the boat when the winds arose. Jesus was with them, but they were trying to cope with the storm without His help; He was apart, resting while they struggled with the elements. They had witnessed His power to solve other’s problems, but yet they didn’t call on Him to help in their trial. If the disciples didn’t realize His power even though they witnessed His many miracles first hand, no wonder those of us who are trusting in an unseen God sometimes forget He is on board, ready to act on our behalf.
In Ephesians 3, Paul’s prayer sums up this concept,
“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”
Lever from Understanding to Righteousness: Faith
Next, I searched the Scriptures looking for a lever to righteousness. I noted when righteousness was referenced, it was often linked with justice or the just or contained a reference to judgment. Obviously, the Word is making the point that when we stand before the righteous judge, our works will be examined and tried by fire (I Cor. 3:13). We want to be found filled with righteousness (doing the right thing) as unto God and our fellow man.
In Proverbs 2:9 Solomon says if we seek for wisdom as for hidden treasure, and cry out for her with a loud voice, “then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path” (KJV). In the NLV righteousness, judgment and equity are translated as “right, just, and fair.” What do we need to understand about the linkage between righteousness, judgment, and fairness in our attempt to discern every good path? Isaiah 28:16-17 held an answer to the relationship between righteousness and justice.
Isaiah 28:16-17: Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken. I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness.
Basically, Isaiah says there is a precious cornerstone (Scripture tells us this precious cornerstone is our Lord Jesus Christ). Easton’s Bible Dictionary, online-at Crosswalk.com, gave the following notes on a cornerstone.
“Corner-stone (Job 38:6; Isaiah 28:16), a block of great importance in binding together the sides of a building. The ‘head of the corner’ (Psalm 118:22,23) denotes the coping, the ‘cosign of vantage’, i.e., the topstone of a building. But the word ‘corner stone’ is sometimes used to denote some person of rank and importance (Isaiah 28:16). It is applied to our Lord, who was set in highest honour (Matthew 21:42). He is also styled ‘the chief corner stone’ (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-8). When (Zechariah 10:4), speaking of Judah, says, ‘Out of him came forth the corner,’ he is probably to be understood as ultimately referring to the Messiah as the ‘corner stone.’
The picture describes the corner stone of our life: Jesus Christ. To ensure the house you build is level, He sets a horizontal leveling line: justice. And to make sure it is erect and straight, he sets a vertical plumb line: righteousness. He, The Righteousness of God, the CORNERSTONE, will bind these two together: both justice and righteousness. Christ is the chief cornerstone of our life and faith. He brings justice and righteousness together in perfect alignment so the life of a Christian can be strong and right: just before God (upward-vertical) and right before man (outward-horizontal).
This description provides a great visual for God’s role in providing Christ to help us with our relationship to Himself and to our fellow man. Based on Proverbs 2:9, we are seeking to understand how this works.
Jeremiah 9:23 This is what the Lord says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
Notice God says He wants us to know Him. And it is in knowing Him that we add a third dimension to His cornerstone work: UNFAILING LOVE. The KJV calls this LOVINGKINDNESS. Aren’t you glad He balances what we deserve when compared to HIS righteousness with HIS unfailing love: His lovingkindness?
Have you ever thought about the balance scale used to denote justice in our American legal system? If the center weight is righteousness (doing what is right, choosing right paths, obeying the law), then justice would be on the one hand, and equity (the penalty needed to balance out any offense) would be required on the other side of the scale. Certainly God the Father is the righteous judge who holds the scales in His hands. Justice demands payment for our sin. Christ is not only our righteousness before the Father, He has provided Himself to balance the scales of justice for our sin and His loving kindness took the place of my sin. Equity for the Christian is His sacrifice made possible by His unfailing love: His lovingkindness. Now we can understand righteousness, justice, and equity and their relation to one another as Proverbs 2:9 suggests.
After studying the references to righteousness, faithfully and diligently seeking to understand it, as discussed above, it was obvious righteousness was VERY important to God. But how do we get it?
In the Old Testament, God used the commandments (the law) as the measure for righteousness. So, could we construe that our obedience to Him, our good works, will make us righteous before Him? Well, I don’t know about you, but I have trouble with some of those commandments. In my humanity I find it hard to love the Lord with all my heart and my neighbor as myself. If I’m honest before God and you, I find I love myself—a lot. Face it: I buy myself clothes, I save for things I want, I fix dishes I like to eat. How can He expect me to love Him more than I love myself? How could anyone in human flesh ever do that? Furthermore, He expects me to love others more than I do myself. Is that even possible? Certainly there is no way we can do that apart from the Spirit of God. So, if obeying the commandments is virtually impossible for man (or for woman) in their own strength, I’m sure hoping God has a good alternative plan.
Romans 4:1-8 answers this issue for us and describes our lever from understanding to righteousness.
Romans 4:1-8: Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the lord has cleared of sin.”
Note it was Abraham’s FAITH (belief in God) that was counted to Him for righteousness. Hebrews 11:6 helps us understand without faith we cannot become righteous or pleasing to God. So FAITH is our lever to righteousness.
Romans 10:1-11 explains God’s plan even further.
Romans 10:1-11 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness, which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.
The most overwhelming thing about the Holy One is that despite the riches of glory, He searched for me, found me, and gave Himself for me. Oh, yes, when understanding entered my heart, FAITH wrought its work. I gave my heart to Him and I became a new creature in Christ Jesus, moving from understanding to righteousness: His righteousness. I put on my new garment of salvation and was further clothed in a clean white robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). It is a robe washed in the blood of the lamb, the Lamb of Glory. Salvation, confessing Him and believing in our hearts God has raised Him from the dead (FAITH) as Romans 10: 9-10 explains, is the lever to righteousness. God imputes righteousness to us just as He did Abraham. We, like Abraham, through faith believe He has provided Himself a sacrifice: Jesus, the Lamb of Glory. And through faith, like Abraham, righteousness is imputed to us (not earned).
Romans 1:17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
While Christ rewards our initial faith with salvation (a one-time act), our continued faith allows God’s righteousness to be revealed through to and through us from faith to faith (Romans 1:17 KJV), from right choice to right choice. While we have the garment of salvation, He further dresses us for presentation to the King of Kings in a robe of righteousness, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, imputed to us by faith that orders each step of our journey.
As a seamstress, when I think about the robe of righteousness He places on us, I think of faith as the thread that stitches, indeed holds, a garment together. God sees each act of righteousness as a faith step toward Him; from faith to faith, we order our steps. Through each step of the journey He reveals more of His righteousness to us enabling a further alignment of our way to His way. And, as this process takes place in our lives, we paint a clearer picture of Him for the world to see. Our robe of righteousness is constructed with steps (or stitches) of faith.
Levers from Righteousness to Wisdom: The Fear of God—awe & reverence, Pleasing God
LEVER ONE: The fear of God—Awe & Reverence
Proverbs 9:10 states “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. . .” The fear of God referenced here is an awe or reverence. And it is our lever from Righteousness to Wisdom. We will delve deeply into the fear of God later in our study.
LEVER TWO: Pleasing God
Ecclesiastes 2:26a God gives wisdom, knowledge and joy, to those who please him.
The prerequisite to God’s granting wisdom is pleasing God: a key lever. This begins to explain why James indicates testing comes on a journey to wisdom. God tests our hearts to see if we will believe (have faith) which is pleasing to Him. He is examining and trying our hearts. If we fall into unbelief, He says we will receive nothing.
Exactly what does please God?
I Thessalonians 2:4 For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.
I Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Romans 8:8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
Hebrews 11:6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek Him.
THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL
We saw despising knowledge and instruction (pride) was the beginning of a downward path away from wisdom. Have you noticed we skipped over the levers from foolishness to wickedness and from wickedness to scornfulness? Well, I couldn’t find them. Why? I don’t think one moves up within these three states. Frankly, if you do not hearken to the fear of the Lord and begin a pursuit of knowledge, I think you move from walking with fools to standing with the wicked, and soon find you are sitting in the seat of scornfulness, clothed in self-righteousness (Psalm 1). So, the progression is not upward, but downward: downward until they are cut off from the earth and cast into hell. Note these are action verbs: walking, standing, sitting. They take conscious action on man’s part, resulting in man choosing to become one of the sinners.
My mom would always tell me, “Bad company corrupts good girls (or boys).” It was her way of teaching me what David taught Solomon, and he in turn taught his son (Proverbs 1:9-19).
James 1:13-15 provides insights into these downward steps moving one from foolish sin (which so easily besets us), to a wicked state, to a scornful/self-righteous state, and finally to a point God says He will cut them out of the earth.
James 1:13-15 And remember when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow it gives birth to death.
Suppose with me for a moment your heart is in either a state of knowledge, understanding, righteousness, or wisdom; what happens to move your heart downward? What happened to David, the man after God’s own heart, that moved him suddenly into a state of foolish/wicked action?
According to James 1:13, God does not tempt us. It is our lust. When lust draws us away and entices us, we sin. So our own action, our lust, causes our sin. It is easy to see lust caused David to sin. Note lust was not the moment he took Bathsheba in adultery; lust was the moment he took his eyes off the Lord and began to look for other things to please his wanton heart. Where have you set the eyes of your heart?
Once again Scripture explains in I John 1:15-16:
I John 1:15-16 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
You just simply cannot love the world and the Father at the same time. Apparently, taking your eyes off the Lord and putting them on the world is the first step downward. And, it can happen to any of us at any stage. When we put our eyes on anything or anyone other than Him, we go down just like Peter on the water. It is a short step from sinful desires (lust) to the act of sin. Make sure you remember that sin, when it is finished with you, will bring death in your life. My dad used to say, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” Count the cost before you begin the journey!
This is the downward spiral. But, praise God, He didn’t leave us to our own lusts. The Lord tells us in I John 2:17:
I John 2:17 And the world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
I felt Proverbs 26:10 (KJV) particularly noteworthy: “The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth trangressors.” Certainly, judging between the fool and the wicked or transgressors could prove difficult. We see them both committing sin(s), so how can we know if they sin from a wicked heart or from a foolish heart? Many juries and judges have had to face this dilemma. Only God can see the heart. David, the man whom God says had a heart like God Himself, sinned with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah. Oh, me. Was his heart wicked or foolish? You and I might have judged him to be a fake and a phony; God saw repentance, forgave Him and judged Him righteous. He imputed His righteousness to Him because of his repentant heart (I John 1:9). So, the next time you find yourself judging someone’s actions, remember that you cannot see the heart and judge not, lest ye be judged (Matt. 7:1).
Let’s look at our heart stages with the levers we have found:
Proverbs 29:23 One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
God describes those living in the bottom three states as living in darkness. But Psalm 119:130 says, “the teaching of your Word gives light, so even the simple can understand.” No wonder Romans 10:14 states, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”
Have you ever met someone religious but lost? Sincerity in and of itself is not salvation. My dad often said, “You can be sincere and be sincerely wrong.” The Bible clearly tells us many will stand before Him; and when He condemns them to outer darkness, they begin reciting all the things they have done in His name. But He will say to them, “I NEVER KNEW YOU.” And the obvious implication is that they have never known Him. RELIGION is Satan’s trick to keep man from knowing God and finding a RELATIONSHIP with the Almighty.
If you talk with a religious man or woman very long at all, you might soon realize some never pick up the Word. They may faithfully go to some form of religious gathering, work or serve until they are exhausted, but there is no LIGHT. If you question them, you find they are not hearing the Word in their congregations and possibly don’t take their Bibles to church. The minister tells good stories but probably never opens a Bible; they are not in the Word for themselves. They are not on the journey to wisdom; they haven’t even begun to pursue God’s knowledge. Their preachers give sermonettes, pleasing their ears rather than pricking their hearts, which would provide a fear of the Lord. They desire to leave their services refreshed rather than convicted of sin separating them from God Himself. God is serious about knowing you and changing your heart; we need to be serious about knowing Him.
Romans 1:18-28 describes the lifestyle of those whose hearts are filled with foolishness, wickedness and scornfulness.
Romans 1:18-28: But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. Forever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.
Is there any wonder why God says in Proverbs 2:22 (KJV), “But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it?” The KJV’s version of verse 21 describes man as vain; in other words, they began to think they knew more than God. Did you see the role lust plays? Did you notice the role of unthankfulness? Did you see the scorner, the foolish and the wicked? Be careful. You don’t want God to find your heart filled with any of these things lest He abandon you and stop convicting you about your sin. Memorize and make real Proverbs 4:23:
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”