Slaves to Freedom

Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave
Ed Welch

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

 – Proverbs 25:28

Human beings resist boundaries.  Ever since sin entered the world, we have considered boundaries to be violations of our personal freedoms – curses rather than blessings.  Scripture, however, reveals that it is our lack of personal boundaries that enslaves us.

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The Wise, the Fool, and the Simple

There are three characters in the book of Proverbs: the wise, the fool, and the simple.

The wise seek out wisdom and fear God.

Proverbs 4:7

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.

Proverbs 2:1-5

1 My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

The fool does not seek wisdom and does not fear God.

Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 14:9

Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance.

The simple are undisciplined in seeking wisdom and are easily misled.

Proverbs 7:6-9

6 For at the window of my house
I have looked out through my lattice,
7 and I have seen among the simple,
I have perceived among the youths,
a young man lacking sense,
8 passing along the street near her corner,
taking the road to her house
9 in the twilight, in the evening,
at the time of night and darkness.

Proverbs 14:15

The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

I think it would be fair to say that the majority of us are not wise yet. Odds are that we are simple. May we seek wisdom outside of ourselves diligently that we might find we have become wise rather than fools.

I Shall Be Slain in the Streets!

John Piper

The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!”

– Proverbs 22:13

The controlling emotion here is laziness, not fear. But what does laziness have to do with the danger of a lion in the street? We don’t say, “This man is too lazy to go do his work because there is a lion outside. The presence of a lion does not produce laziness, it produces fear. So what’s the point of the proverb?

The point is that the sluggard creates imaginary circumstances to justify not doing his work, and thus shifts the focus from the vice of his laziness to the danger of lions. No one will approve his staying in the house all day just because he is lazy. But they sleepy-tigermight sympathize with him and approve his staying home if there is real danger outside. So, to hide his laziness and justify himself, he deflects attention away from the truth (laziness) to an illusion (lions).

If we would be wise people – people on the way to being “sages” – we must understand how our sinful human hearts and minds work. One profound Biblical insight we need to know is that our heart exploits our mind to justify what the heart wants. That is, our deepest desires precede the rational functioning of our minds and incline the mind to perceive and think in a way that will make the desires look right. It is an illusion to think that our hearts are neutral and incline in accordance with cool rational observation of truth. On the contrary, we feel powerful desires or fears in our heart, and THEN our mind bends reality to justify the desires and fears.

This is what the sluggard is doing. He deeply desires to stay at home and not work. There is no good reason to stay at home. So what does he do? Does he overcome his bad desire? No, he uses his mind to create unreal circumstances to justify his desire. He may even believe the creation of his mind. Deception can cross from moral depravity to mental derangement – from deceiving others to deceiving ourselves.

Thus Proverbs 26:16 says, “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can give a discreet answer.” Now why is that? Does laziness make a person haughty? Not necessarily. But it does make them resistant to any truth that exposes their laziness. So when seven men say, “There is no lion in the street,” the sluggard cannot concede. He must insist that his own answer is wiser: There is a lion in the street. Otherwise his laziness is exposed for what it is. Thus truth is sacrificed on the altar of self-justification.