INTRO: The psalmist says of the Lord, ...the way of the wicked he turneth upside down (Ps 146:9). So, as we noted in our previous study of the wicked, the aim of the book of Proverbs and, yes, of the Bible is to turn people away from wicked living toward a life of righteousness under the superintendency of the Lord. John wrote, The whole world lieth in wickedness (1 Jno 5:19). And it does not take more than a casual glance around us to know that is true. Every sort of wicked and sinful behavior is practiced and available ... within the reach of anyone! So much of that wickedness has an element of pleasure in it, and the lure of that pleasure is packaged so attractively. Who can resist it? That is a very real problem which we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, must confront. The book of Proverbs helps us understand the dead end street that is sin and wickedness.
1. Prov 10:27,28 - The expectation of the wicked is truly disappointing
a. see also Prov 11:7 - ...the hope of unjust men perisheth
b. notice that both verses mention hope ... but of different sorts of folks
c. unrighteous people put their expectation, hope in what this life offers
d. Mt 6:10-21 - the things in which the unrighteous put their confidence are so temporary, so perishable, so tied to this life
e. 1 Tim 6:7 - how short sighted are such worldly expectations, plans, etc.
f. the contrast? the hope of the righteous shall be gladness
g. Rom 6:23 - there are just two options ... and we choose
2. Prov 12:10 - A characteristic of many wicked people is cruelty
a. Prov 27:23 - ...look well to thy herds
b. in an agricultural society this proverb would certainly make a lot of sense
c. a lot can be known about a person by the way he treats his animals, pets
d. and isnt it interesting that inspiration has called attention to such a thing?
e. cruel treatment of ones animals usually extends beyond them to people, to family members, to employees
f. by contrast, people who are kind to other people rarely are cruel to animals
g. Eph 4:31,32 - get rid of the things which could produce cruelty - be kind, forgiving, tender hearted
3. Prov 15:8 - The wicked and worship?
a. it is ironic that people engrossed in sin would go to worship
b. but they do ... they sing lustily; they say, Amen; they tell the preacher what a great sermon he delivered; they mingle
c. however, their worship is an abomination to God!
d. Jer 7:21-23 - all of the sacrifices in the world cannot make a wicked person right with God! there is much, much more to ones right relationship with God
e. Ps 51:16,17 - worship must come from within ... from a heart that is right
f. oh, it is true that none is worthy to come into His presence - but people of contrite hearts, obedient lives can rest assured their prayers are heard
g. 1 Cor 5:8 - are sincerity and true characteristics of your worship to God?
4. Prov 15:28 - The wicked are soon known by their speech
a. stand in a group of people and listen ... do hear profanity? the Lords name used in vain? vulgar expressions? ugly things said about another? gossip? etc.
b. what are you hearing? the expressions of a wicked heart!
c. Mt 12:34-37 - Jesus clearly teaches that our words betray the condition of our hearts
d. so, Jas 4:8 - ...purify your hearts, ye double minded
e. Eph 4:29 and Col 4:6 - I believe all of us need to take a very hard look at what is coming out of our mouths
f. we may not be murderers, adulterers, thieves ... but do we sin with mouths?
g. remember, your words are telling others about your heart!
5. Prov 21:29 - The stubbornness of the wicked
a. because the heart of a wicked person is so set, counsel is rejected
b. I have seen this over and again as I have attempted to counsel and advise a person who is on a path leading to wrong choices and behavior
c. the words (usually from the scriptures) make no impression
d. Im going to have my way; Im going to do this
e. 2 Chron 30:28 - ...be ye not stiffnecked ... but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary...
f. notice the last part of 21:29 - the Lord directs the way of the upright
g. Ps 119:59 - but a stubborn heart will not yield joyfully to His way
CLOSE: A good conclusion to this lesson is Prov 24:19,20. There is no good reason to envy wicked, sinful people. Perhaps there are times we look longingly at those folks and their seeming enjoyment of their unseemly behavior. But here is the truth of the matter: the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
Cecil A. Hutson
24 October 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)