This morning was an interesting morning of prayer and study. I always start with prayer, but from there it is up in the air. Today I fired up a sermon by Doctor Martin Lloyd-Jones on the pride of man. While that was starting, I read a devotional regarding God’s Word. The referenced verse was in Proverbs 30.
Proverbs 30:5-6 (ESV)
5 Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
6 Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
I looked at this passage and just pondered the power of verse five. “Every word of God proves true.” This passage is burned into my heart. I do not question its validity. I do not question any of God’s Word from the first word of Genesis to the last word of Revelation. So, what does that mean about verse six?
It means I believe it as well. “Do not add to his words.”
Proverbs 30 is not the only place these two things are stated. Looking at the links in my Bible I found verse five restated twice and verse six three times.
Every Word of God Proves True
This passage is restated twice in Psalms.
Psalms 12:6 (ESV)
6 The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
Psalms 18:30 (ESV)
30 This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
If we doubt this how can we be certain about any of God’s Word? How can we accept any teaching without questioning its veracity? I thought about that for a long time meditating on verse six and listening to Doctor Lloyd-Jones discuss the same topic things started to come together for me.
Do Not Add to His Words
I read verse six several times. I also looked at the linked verses:
Deuteronomy 4:2 (ESV)
2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.
Deuteronomy 12:32 (ESV)
32 “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.
Revelation 22:18 (ESV)
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
I have read these verses many times, and though I had not memorized these words I knew them and honestly, I tended to overlook them or take them for granted. It one of those phrases that I knew to be true and subconsciously I did not need to focus on it, but God showed me this morning that I was wrong.
As I was pondering this verse and looking at the linked verse, I heard Doctor Lloyd-Jones begin specific discussion of pride and how it prevented faith, and that got my attention.
The Barrier of Pride and Selfishness
He first spoke of Jesus and how he never took credit for the things He did. He gave all the Glory to God. I thought a passage in Philippians 2 where Paul explained Jesus’ example of humility.
Philippians 2:1-2 (ESV)
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Then Paul defines the mind we should have in verses 3-5, and in verse 6-8 he explains what the willingness of Jesus.
Philippians 2:3-8 (ESV)
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
This is not always an easy step. Christ’s example is hard for me to fathom. Paul cautions us to simply not be selfish and put others interests before our own, but sometimes that selfishness just kicks in. I will hit a point where I want to be first. Jesus never did that except to be the first to live without sin and to die for me. That is humbling when I think of times I let selfishness or pride put myself first.
You Can’t Handle the Truth
The sermon took another turn as I listened. Doctor Lloyd-Jones spoke of truth and pride and in came God and his pruning knife to convict me once again. The good doctor brought up arguing over a point; it could be anything. He posed the question asking are we searching for the truth or allowing our pride to prove our side of the argument is the correct side.
As I listened I just began to see all the times I had fought not for the truth, but to be right. Even if the point I began with is true and right once I surrender to pride the truth no longer matters, and even if I “win” the argument the truth is lost. No one wins, one simply relents, and decides it is not worth fighting over.
I listened a bit more to the sermon and paused it to read the Word several times. I kept thinking of Paul’s passage above – Philippians 2: 1-8. As I pondered that John 17 came to mind. It is Jesus’ prayer. He speaks of His mission to fulfill God’s plan for salvation and asks God for a blessing to protect his disciples. But even in this prayer He never takes anything from God. All Glory goes to Him. I love this chapter. I especially like how it begins.
John 17:1-5 (ESV)
“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
Jesus assumes nothing. He asks God. He asked him to allow these things. He only told God of His obedience and asked for his blessing. What a powerful example. He did not argue. He did not doubt, and he did not question God. He made only requests of Him.
Ask or Question
As I typed the words from verse 17 above the Holy Spirit hit me with this thought; I suddenly saw this great divide between the word “ask” and “question.” I know that as verbs both have different meanings, but I had not considered it before this moment. It is one of those things we know but do not think about. But today the difference became clear with a verse from Matthew 18.
Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV)
3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus asked knowing God would not deny Him. Neither does a little child when they make a request of their parents. When they ask they know that it will be answered. Little children do not question their parents they know who they are, and they trust them not for what they do but for who they are. That is what God wants from us.
God’s only desire is to be united with us and it was so strong that He was willing to give His Son’s life to pay for our sins. He desires to knock down this wall of pride, doubt, and fear cultivated by the adversary and our rebellion and restore the love and trust that we had with God in the beginning.
In the beginning, the adversary has been filling our minds with doubts and fears. Posing questions to us that cause doubt or fear. Just read Genesis 3:1-7 and you can see the beginning of that process.
Holding on to Our Joy
As I worked through all these things this morning, I could not stop thinking about how blessed we are to have the Word of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit to bring us understanding.
The world is a place filled with darkness, but we have the light of risen Lord, Jesus Christ! Yes, there are people in this world that hate the light and hate us for sharing it, but how can we hide the light of Jesus. If we truly believe it cannot be contained.
As I think of all that Jesus endured for me how can I turn from it. How can I be silent? He suffered in a way that I cannot fathom and did not protest. With a word, he could have stopped it all, but His love for me was so great that He was willing to pay that price. He paid it all for us. Just look at Isaiah 53
Isaiah 53:4-6 (ESV)
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
The whole chapter just blows me away. Isaiah foretells of Jesus sacrifice hundreds of years before it happens, and Jesus would not disobey.
I look at all this, and the promise of Jesus and I am humbled. God asked His Son to give His life as a sacrifice to pay for my sins because the debt had to be paid for us to be reunited. Jesus knew this and did so willingly and was glorified and He gave us one final command and a means to accomplish it.
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
He asked us to tell others what he has given us in His word. It is the promise of eternal life. Why would we not share it? I like how Paul puts it in Romans.
Romans 10:8-10 (ESV)
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
But then comes the question that we need to answer.
Romans 10:14-17 (ESV)
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Now I am not a preacher, but the Lord is telling us all to share the gospel. It is the good news of salvation. It is the path to peace and rest. The only effective way for it to grow is to be shared. If there were another way, God would have told us.
Sometimes we freeze up. Sometimes we keep silent. That is not what Jesus asked us to do. He asked us to speak because, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom 10:17).
Father, please help me to always be bold in my faith and speak the Gospel to others without allowing my pride or fear to get in the way. Lord, you are my strength and if you are with me who can stand against me. Thank you, father, for Your Word and the Gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. I pray all this in Jesus name. Amen!