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Proverbs Lesson 9 - Facing the Music

Proverbs Lesson 9 - Facing the Music

Series: Proverbs
Ref: Proverbs 6:16–19

When you ask the question today, 'What is God's will for my life?' have you considered the fact that God already answered that thousands of years ago? Join Stephen now as he shows you where.

Transcript

Facing the Music

Proverbs 6:16-19

Robert Jeffress included in his commentary on some of the Proverbs an interesting history of a popular phrase we often use today, translated from Chinese into English.  A member of the royal orchestra in China was evidently an imposter.  In fact, he evidently talked his way into playing in the orchestra, although he had no musical training.  Whenever this massive orchestra would practice or perform, he would simply hold the flute against his lips and pretend to play.

For some time he got away with it, enjoying the prestige of being in the orchestra as well as receiving a handsome salary. 

One day, however, the emperor requested that each member of the orchestra come to the palace and perform one solo piece for him – as he intended to enjoy several days of music. 

The flautist knew that in a matter of hours he would be discovered, his family shamed and more than likely executed for fraud.  So he feigned illness, but the court physician found nothing wrong with him.  On his appointed day and hour to perform approached, this man took his own life rather than stand before the emperor and be exposed as a thief and an imposter.

Out of that event came the phrase, “He refused to face the music.” 

Robert Jeffress, The Solomon Secrets (Waterbrook, 2002), p. 128

We use that phrase today to talk about someone who refused to be accountable . . . to take his just desserts . . . to stand up and own up to who he really was.  He refused to face the music.

Study the book of Proverbs very long and you get the distinct impression that the Emperor of Heaven has called each of us in for a personal evaluation.  And there’s no hiding our performance.  In fact, it’s impossible to escape Him in life or in death.

Perhaps that’s why the Apostle Paul was so passionate about his development and performance for the glory of God when he wrote, “It is my ambition to be pleasing to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 5:9)

And the hard truth is, we’re often not very pleasing to our Lord and we are in constant need of challenge and correction.

And one of the greatest dangers to the Christian growing up in Christ is the danger of believing he already has.  He’s arrived.

That’s why Paul wrote, “I haven’t attained yet . . . not that I am perfect, or mature already, but I press on . . .” (Philippians 3:12)

It’s dangerous to believe that we’ve arrived.

That’s why it’s a good thing to face the music – the evaluation of the scripture for an exposure of who we really are and where we really need to be diligent.

In Proverbs chapter 6, God calls us in, as it were, to face the music. 

Look with me at Proverbs chapter 6 and verse 16.  There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him; 17. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; 18. A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19. A false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

This is one of those passages where we’re not only having to appear before the Emperor, but it’s also like getting a physical from the Divine Physician.

He takes a look at our body – did you notice how He references our eyes; the health of our heart; the condition of our tongue, the use of our hands and even our feet.

 

Robert Jeffress included in his commentary on some of the Proverbs an interesting history of a popular phrase we often use today, translated from Chinese into English.  A member of the royal orchestra in China was evidently an imposter.  In fact, he evidently talked his way into playing in the orchestra, although he had no musical training.  Whenever this massive orchestra would practice or perform, he would simply hold the flute against his lips and pretend to play.

For some time he got away with it, enjoying the prestige of being in the orchestra as well as receiving a handsome salary. 

One day, however, the emperor requested that each member of the orchestra come to the palace and perform one solo piece for him – as he intended to enjoy several days of music. 

The flautist knew that in a matter of hours he would be discovered, his family shamed and more than likely executed for fraud.  So he feigned illness, but the court physician found nothing wrong with him.  On his appointed day and hour to perform approached, this man took his own life rather than stand before the emperor and be exposed as a thief and an imposter.

Out of that event came the phrase, “He refused to face the music.” 

Robert Jeffress, The Solomon Secrets (Waterbrook, 2002), p. 128

 Have you ever enjoyed getting a physical? 

O look at what month it is – it’s time for me to schedule a physical.  Oh joy, oh delight.  I get to be poked and prodded after sitting for 2 hours in a waiting room reading magazines I would never buy with my own money.  What little I know about Oprah I owe to doctors and dentists.  And it’s more than I want to know.  And then, eventually, I get to have my blood drawn – that’s my favorite part of the day.   I don’t know about you but I still get queasy!  The palms of my hands get clammy and I have to grit my teeth and look away until that nurse filled hundreds of vials with my blood, weakening me for the rest of my life. And it is necessary for physical health and well-being.So the Divine Physician uses his Word to poke and prod us – to completely examine and check us out. 

You see, this is where danger to our spirit is exposed.

 

So often, in reading through Proverbs, there are those unmistakable passages that hook us and bring us in for a close inspection.

Mind you, Solomon is collecting these proverbs for those who are seeking for the hidden treasure of wisdom.  The world will hardly stop in and read for this is foolishness to them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Now if you have a particularly good doctor, he’ll tell you not only what to do, but what to stop doing, right?

He’ll tell you some things you need to start practicing and what to start eating and he’ll also tell you what to stop eating.  He’s such a busybody.

No, he’s a good doctor.

So also, our Divine Physician tells us the truth as He personally diagnosis our condition.

Before we look at each of these body parts and how they can sin, why a poetic list of seven sins?

First of all . . . 

  1. It aids the believer with his memory.

When my wife says, “Honey, while you’re out will you stop at the grocery store and pick up a couple of things.” Now, if it’s a couple of things, I can remember that.  But if it’s more than a couple of things – I’m gonna forget and I’ll end up coming home with white powdered doughnuts and diet granola bars – it’s my view that they cancel one another out – and who knows what else.  So she’ll say, “Honey, write these things down on a list.”  So I can refer to it from time to time.

Delivering a specific list like this, secondly,

  1. It encourages the believer by its brevity. 

Certainly, the Lord hates all sin and all sin is equally hated by God.  But to summarize and thus pare down so many sins into a short list of 6, it encourages the believer.  Imagine if the text said, “There are 6,000 things the Lord hates, actually 7,000 that are an abomination unto Him.”

7,000 . . .  a man, we’ll never please Him.

How about 7 . . . go there for starters.

  1. This list aids the believer with his memory.
  2. It encourages the believer by its brevity. 
  3. Thirdly, this list surprises the believer with its severity.

These seven, Solomon writes, “The Lord hates.”  The Lord despises these actions and attitudes, calling them abominations!” 

That word means “morally repulsive.”

Peter A. Steveson, Proverbs (BJU Press, 2001), p. 84

So does this mean that the Lord considers these seven sins more repulsive than other sins?  No . . . for all sin is an abomination unto God.

In fact, the text, “These six things, yea seven” is simply a Hebrew expression that implies the list is not exhaustive. 

John Phillips, Exploring Proverbs: Volume One (Kregel, 1995), p. 145

Sin is sin.

But these in the list are surprising.  Some of these 7 we might expect to sweep under the rug! 

These are a far cry from the dirty dozen or the nasty nine. 

Look at the list.  We understand the one about murder (v. 17), but you mean to tell me that God hates arrogance as much as He hates murder?  You mean to tell me that a proud look is just as bad as murder?

What does this do for the average person who thinks he’s going to heaven because he hasn’t killed anybody? 

“Course I’m going to heaven . . . I never killed anybody.”

Listen to the physician’s report. “The Lord hates murder and lying and divisiveness and arrogance equally.”

Let’s face the music together . . . this is what God has to say in verse 16.  There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him.

  1. The Divine physician begins with the eyes.  “A proud look” or “haughty eyes”. 

In our vernacular we might say, “Looking down your nose at everybody else.”

This is a disdainful spirit.  They literally disdain others.

The eyes serve as the mirror of the soul, which means this haughty look betrays a haughty spirit.  Adapted from Steveson, p. 84

They look at people like they are better than other people because they actually believe they are.

This is nothing less than the attitude of Satan himself who disdained the triune God, believing he was worthy of God’s own throne.

So the person that views others with arrogance is reflecting the spirit of Satan and this spirit will never bring glory to Christ.

The Scottish preacher James Denney said, ‘No man can bear witness to Christ and to himself at the same time.”

Warren Wiersbe, Be Skillful: Proverbs (Victor Books, 1995), p. 155

In other words, you can’t be impressed with Christ and at the same time be impressed with yourself; you can’t focus your attention on Him and yourself at the same time.

This phrase refers to someone who is conceited – someone who is caught up with in own reflection.  And their favorite topic of conversation is themselves.

I appreciated this response when someone asked Walt Disney was it was like to be a celebrity, years ago.  He said, “It feels fine when it helps to get a good seat for a football game.  But it never helped me to make a good film, or command the obedience of my daughter.  In fact, it doesn’t even seem to keep fleas off our dog – and if being a celebrity doesn’t give me an advantage over a couple of fleas, there can’t be very much to it.”

Robert J Morgan, Editor; Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook, 2006 (Thomas Nelson, 2005), p. 10

Eugene Peterson, the author of the paraphrase, The Message, once remarked that the church today is growing in its list of celebrities and declining in its list of saints.

  1. Solomon moves from the disdainful spirit to the deceitful spirit.

He says further in verse 17, “The Lord not only hates haughty eyes, but a lying tongue.”

Again, this mirrors the character of Satan who is called by Christ the Father of lies.  In fact, whenever Satan speaks he speaks in the dialect of lying for that is his native tongue. (John 8:44)

Jesus Christ always delivers the truth, in fact, He is the truth (John 14:6).

The believer who is most like Christ and most unlike Satan is the believer who tells the truth.

And over and over again, Solomon challenges the believer to be honest.

Put away from you crooked speech and put devious talk far from you. (Proverbs 4:24)

Devious speech isn’t just the big whopper of a lie.  It could be manipulating the truth to cover your tracks; flattery to get your way; stretching the truth to fit your story and more.

Adapted from Jeffress, p. 126

The Lord hates the disdainful spirit and the deceitful spirit.

  1. Third, He hates the destructive spirit.

Notice further as he examines not just the eyes and the tongue but the hands that shed innocent blood.

This is the one we would expect on a list of seven terrible sins.

These are the inquisitors, the murderers, the fomenters of holocausts and genocide.

This is also the euthanasia proponent and the abortionist.  This is the court that ordered water and food withheld from a living, disabled woman named Terry Schiavo.

This is for all those who adopt the message of Peter Singer, the bioethicist at Princeton who said a year and half ago that killing both preborn and newborn children as well as legalizing the assisting of suicide, especially for the elderly is acceptable if it is within the best interests of the family. 

He said in an interview I read off the WorldNetDaily, that there will be an upheaval in the concept of life and rights, with only a few hard-core, know-nothing religious fundamentalists still protecting life as [sacred].  He believes that killing a disabled newborn for up 28 days after birth is acceptable.  Of course he also believes that a man’s life is not worth more than a cow.

WorldNetDaily, Thursday, September 14, 2006

And he has a growing following.  A guy came up to me today after the services and said, “Stephen, this week marks the 7thanniversary when you came to our home after our baby boy was born with down syndrome.  I’ve just got to tell you, what a joy Michael is to us and how delighted we are with his presence in our family and in our home.  He said, “However, we can’t believe what a UNC professor said this past week . . . did you see it in the N & O?  I said “No” and he emailed me the article this afternoon.  A University of North Carolina professor of biology made the comment in class that he believes when a mother discovers her pre-born child has down syndrome, she should abort it . . . he said, “It is the moral thing to do.”

N & O, 2/16/2008

The word of God says, I hate that perspective . . . I hate the industry of death that determines who is valuable and worthy of life . . .

People unwittingly are deceived into following the god of this world who is bent on deception and destruction.  He was a murderer from the beginning, Christ said in John 8:44

He is called the red dragon in Revelation 12:3 – given this name because of his thirst for the shedding of blood.  He loves to destroy and kill the image of God, because He cannot kill God, so at least he will motivate and inspire the killing of human beings because we are uniquely created in the image of God.

No wonder the Lord hates the disdainful, deceitful and destructive spirit.

  1. Fourth, God hates the depraved spirit.

Solomon writes in verse 18, [the Lord hates] a heart that devises wicked plans.

This text refers to those who are plotting to take advantage of others.

Steveson, p. 84

This is depraved heart conniving . . . scheming and scamming others.  (Proverbs 24:8)

By the way, let’s turn this one around and challenge ourselves to plan things that will encourage and help others toward purity and integrity.

If the world is full of scammers and schemers that will steal your money and your purity and your reputation, let the church be an assembly that plans to enrich your walk and encourage your purity and enhance your character and reputation.

A few weeks ago I read a devotional article by my favorite professor, Howard Hendricks in which he wrote, “Not long ago I lost one of my best friends, a dynamic woman 86 years old.  The last time I saw her was at a rather [boring] reception.  We were sitting there on eggshells, looking all pious when she walked in, saw me and said, “Well, Hendricks, I haven’t seen you for a long time – what are the five best books you’ve read in the past year?”  She had a way of changing a group’s dynamics.  Her philosophy was, “Let’s not bore each other, let’s get into a discussion, and if we can’t find anything to discuss, let’s get into an argument.”  She was 83 on her last trip to the Holy Land.  She went there with a group of NFL football players.  One of my most vivid memories of her was seeing her out in front of the bus yelling inside to them, ‘C’mon men, let’s get with it.”  She died in her sleep . . . her daughter told me that just before she died, she had written out her goals for the next 10 years.

Stories for the Heart (Multnomah, 1996), p. 99

Now there’s a heart, devising plans for good and godliness – to impact others as well for Christ.

  1. Solomon moves on next to the feet.  He informs us that the Lord hates feet that make haste to run to evil.

These are wandering feet . . . this is a reference to a delinquent spirit.

They have the ability to find trouble.  They have the innate skill to sniff the wind and discover which direction sin is in and with both feet they fun as fast as they can toward it.

They are not discovered by evil they long for it.  They live for it.

These are the high school senior who has already decided that as soon as they are away from home in some college somewhere they will run to evil.

This is the businessman who’s flight touches down in a distant city and his feet are anxious to get going in search of sin.

God hates the sound of feet running with delight away from His pleasure and into the arms of sin.

He longs for the sound of the prodigal whose feet race home.

  1. The list isn’t over . . . Solomon informs us that the Lord also hates the dishonest spirit. 

Notice verse 19.  The Lord hates a false witness who breathes out lies.

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 19:22b, “It is better to be a poor man than a liar.”

Apply that in your business dealings next week – will you fib and get the contract?  Or tell the truth and lose the deal.

In Proverbs 26:28, Solomon wrote, “A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

They’re both not telling the truth by the way.  The liar and the flatterer will ruin lives.

In fact, Solomon’s son, Rehoboam will lose his throne and his kingdom because he will listen to counselors who flatter him and puff up his pride and cause him to make foolish decisions.

Now, the implication of this text in Proverbs 6:19 is a person who is called to take the witness stand and deliver true testimony.  And the one who doesn’t, and brings dishonor upon the accused is literally performing an act hated by God.

This led to the tradition of witnesses placing their hands upon the Bible before they entered the witness stand and promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

That tradition is now going away.

But the principle remains.  Listen, the believer is always to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Think of it this way; the Christian is always under oath! 

The Lord hates the disdainful spirit, the deceitful spirit, the destructive spirit, the depraved spirit, the delinquent spirit, the dishonest spirit and finally;

  1. The Lord hates the divisive spirit.

Proverbs 6:19 concludes, “and one who sows discord among brothers.”

He hates anyone and anything that will divide His church and separate His saints. 

We can either sow the seeds that bring a harvest of blessing (Psalm 126:6) or we can sow slander which brings a harvest of bitter hurt.

By the way, most of these deal with parts of the body – but this last one deals with a person – the Lord hates that one who sows discord among the brethren.

If God hates these 7 spirits of sin, then He must love their opposite.

So, let’s turn them around – from the 7 deadly sins into the 7 delightful acts;

  1. Instead of a haughty spirit, demonstrate a humble spirit.

And you’ll have opportunities first thing tomorrow morning too. How will you treat someone in your family, your classroom, your church, your job, your bus tomorrow morning? 

Will you look down on them, or look out of them?

  1. Instead of lying speech, pursue legitimate speech.

Tell the truth . . . in big things and small things.

  1. Instead of hands that harm, develop hands that help;
  2. Instead of a heart that plans wicked deeds, develop a heart that plans wholesome deeds.
  3. Instead of racing toward perversion; run for the prize of the high calling – which you have in Christ Jesus.
  4. Instead of lying under oath, live under oath.

Remember, we are called witnesses for Christ’s name sake.

  1. Instead of sowing bitterness and disunity; sow seeds of blessing and unity.

And so mirror the model of Christ’s own life who was perfect opposite of these 7 sins;

  • He was the model of humility;
  • He was the epitome of truth and truthfulness;
  • His hands healed and helped and embraced;
  • His heart was pure and sinless;
  • His feet walked among us, eventually allowing the piercing nails to silence him – but for a moment;
  • Everything He said was the truth, and nothing but the truth;
  • And we have been unified by His Spirit around this truth.

This is the Divine physicians report – accept the facts; don’t argue with the x-rays or the lab report; fill the prescription and take your medicine.

Let’s accept the diagnosis and with gratitude for God’s grace & passion like Paul to be pleasing to Christ.  Let’s deal with this list of 7 – and yield to the Spirit of God our:

            Eyes

            Mouth

            Hands

            Heart

            Feet.

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