​Stay Clear of Evil – Proverbs 4:15

“Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”  Proverbs 4:15 

Proverbs four has three sections that utter the heart cry of a loving father for his son.  Listen to the cry of the father as he begins each section with a command to pay attention and receive his instruction, understanding, sayings, or words. In the first section (4:1-9), Solomon tells his son to get wisdom, get understanding, and heed his words; in the second section (4:10-19) Solomon urges his son to hold onto what he has been taught and to stay clear of the evil way; and then in the last section (4:20-27) Solomon admonishes his son to a lifestyle of keeping his heart attitude right.  These verses picture the heart cry of our heavenly Father for those who are His children through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

The verse we are focusing on today falls under the second section, Solomon urging his son to hold onto what he has been taught and to stay clear of the evil way (4:10-19).  Solomon wanted his son to not just follow his instruction, but to make it his own.  No longer would life be driven by “I have to, because dad said so”, but his heart would be knit with this father’s heart.  The son would choose to do right, not because he had to, but because he had chosen to obey his heavenly Father.  The Bible is our heavenly Father’s instruction to us.  Hopefully, as you and I read our Bibles, we make our heavenly Father’s convictions our own.  

Solomon speaks from the heart as he warns his son against the path of the wicked and the way of evil men.  In the previous verse, Solomon commanded his son not to enter into the path of the wicked or go in the way of evil men.  “Path” and “way” are the activities and lifestyle of the wicked.  Solomon urges his son, to avoid and not even approach these sinful lifestyles, to turn from any inclination to go that way, and pass away from any opportunity that comes to partake of that sinful lifestyle. 

Again our verse is Proverbs 4:15, “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”  There are four commands in this verse each dealing with a different dimension of how we may be brought face-to-face with evil.

Avoid it– Be watchful against the path of evil.  If we are not, then we will enter into temptation.  That is why Jesus said, “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation” in Matthew 26:41.  Keep a vigilant guard against sin.  To avoid we must watch against it and pray.  Pray or be prey.  An application can be made here to the internet. The internet is dangerous. Websites you think would be clean have provocative advertisements.  Filtering services, ad blockers, and accountability software are all great ways to help avoid evil.  It is also super important to have accountability partners.  The latter half of 2 Timothy 2:22 says we are to follow righteousness, faith, charity, and peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  If you are a man, find another like-minded man to keep your accountable.  If you are a woman, find another like-minded woman to keep you accountable.

Pass not by it – Do not consider evil.  Do not entertain curiosities about evil in thought or action.   Do not be like the young, simple man who was void of understanding that went on a stroll near the adulterous woman’s house and then lost his purity (Prov. 7).  In our culture today, the internet is easily the adulterous’ house.  It is very dangerous.  

Turn from it – If you find the opportunity right in front of you to do wrong, stand alone, turn from the wrong immediately.  Be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who courageously stood alone against the king’s command to worship the golden image.  They stood out like sore thumbs among the thousands who were bowed down to worship the golden image Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had set up.  They knew the penalty for disobedience was death, but they stood and turned from the evil before them, and God miraculously delivered them (Daniel 3).  

Pass away – flee from evil.  Be like Joseph, when Potiphar’s wife caught him by the coat and requested sexual favors of him.  He turned and ran out of the house leaving his coat in her hand.  No doubt, Potiphar who was a high ranking Egyptian official as captain of Pharaoh’s guard had a beautiful wife.  Joseph refused to commit this sin against God, against his master Potiphar, against Potiphar’s wife, and against his own body (Genesis 39:1-12, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).  Certain sins we must stand and oppose, but youthful lusts we must flee immediately (2 Timothy 2:22)

May we be firm in our purpose as the Hebrew young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were to stand up for righteousness.  Their passion for righteousness is clearly illustrated in Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”  Is this our attitude towards sin?  Have we made that choice that we will not serve sin, or do we like our sin?  Have we ridden our lives of any provision for our flesh that would be a source of failure? 

Romans 13:14 says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”  We all have weak areas, but it makes no excuse for sin.  We must be bold and courageous, because we are victorious through Christ that loved us (Romans 8:37).  God knows with what areas of sin we struggle, and He is standing there waiting for us to humbly come to Him for the grace to help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).  Though sometimes doing right seems impossible, God has given us the victory through Christ Jesus.  We are complete in Him (Romans 8:37, Colossians 2:10). 

How are you guarding yourself against the evil and anti-Christ philosophies that are so pervasive around us?  Take to heart the truth of Psalm 84:11 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”  Remember, “Without Him I can do nothing, with Him I can do all things” (John 15:5, Phil. 4:13).  Though doing right may cost you much as a Christian, avoid evil, do not pass by it, turn from it, and pass away.  It is always worth it.  Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be without dissimulation (hypocrisy). Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”  It’s a choice.  What choice have you made?  More often than not, we cleave to our sin, and don’t want to give it up. We can’t imagine life without getting our own selfish way.  Thus we abhor the good way, rather than the evil way.  This ought not to be.  Choose to love Christ purely by abhorring the evil way and holding tightly to good. Hear the heart cry of the Father, “Stay clear of evil.”

Purposed Focus and Focused Purpose – Proverbs 4:25

Proverbs 4:25 “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.”

This verse is part of Solomon’s miniseries of commands on keeping one’s heart with all diligence.  The word “heart” in this verse refers to a person’s attitude, their mind, center of being, understanding, or wisdom.  This is the second of five keys to keeping one’s heart with all diligence.  These five keys to keeping your heart with all diligence can be summarized as follows:

  1. Putting away from myself perverse and froward (contrary, complaining) speech (Proverbs 4:24)
  2. Faithfully keeping focused on Christ and what He wants me to do (Proverbs 4:25)
  3. Pondering, seriously considering, what way my feet are pointing in life (Proverbs 4:26).
  4. Not compromising by turning away from going God’s way, to go my way (Proverbs 4:27)
  5. Removing my foot from any known sin in my life (Proverbs 4:27)

Remember, the concept of keeping our deceitful heart in check, means figuratively, that we keep a rifle trained on our heart rather than a rifle trained on intruders outside our heart.  Our hearts are prone to wander from God because they are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked as the prophet Jeremiah testified (Jeremiah 17:9).  Most of the time, WE ARE OUR GREATEST ENEMY.  The worst thing we can do is to follow our heart; this is what the fool does (Proverbs 18:3).  The best thing we can do is to keep our heart with all diligence.  I know these ideas are totally contrary to popular opinion. However, because people are following their hearts is why our world so messed up.  So, instead of having our eyes gazing on what our heart wants to do, let’s have our eyes focused on Jesus Christ’s desires for us instead.  What does He want me to do this year?  Is not our goal, God Himself?  I like the words of Fredrick Brook, “My goal is God Himself; not joy, nor peace, nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.”  Let’s ask ourselves, “Is God my goal?  Is He what consumes my thoughts?  Is He my passion?  How is He my goal and passion? Is my purposed focus on God and is my focused purpose, God Himself?

We are so easily distracted.  When we are, our focus is no longer purposed on what it ought to be and it meanders around from thing to thing, circumstance to circumstance, and event to event.  We forget our purpose, that is, God Himself.  Our purposed is to bring Him the glory and pleasure He rightfully deserves (Revelation 4:11).  While, many people have a purposed focus, often themselves, they have an out of focus purpose.  They are in a rat race trying to find the thing that will bring them the most satisfaction.  Eventually this leads to disillusionment.  True satisfaction and fulfillment will never be found in something but only in the person of Jesus Christ, yet we often live as if the opposite is true.

As the first part of this verse says, “Let your eyes look right on.” (Prov. 4:25a)  This command means to look with regard and respect.  Let’s be steadfast looking to Jesus for our marching orders as soldiers of Christ.  The second part of the verse reiterates the same command with slightly different wording for emphasis.  “Let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” (Prov. 4:25b)  Let’s find out our marching orders from the Commander and Chief and then do His orders with all our heart, by the power of His Spirit in us (Romans 8:11-13).  Let’s keep looking to Him, and not get distracted.  Let’s stay focused on the work He has called us to do (John 17:4).

As we live our Christian’s lives in this New Year, I pray that we will have a resolute, purposed focus on a focused purpose, Jesus Christ.  We can be confident; God is not done with us and will continue to perform His work in us.

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6

Attitude – Proverbs 4:23

Proverbs 4:23 "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."

The "heart" in one word can be defined as "attitude." We each control own attitude. We decide whether we are going to have a good attitude or a bad attitude. Our attitude affects our whole life, it points us our feet towards right or towards evil. It can be the catalyst of our demise or the catalyst of our realization of our triumph in Christ. Just as the heart pumps the life of the blood to all the members of our body, our attitude pumps the life or death of our souls (mind, will, and emotion).

We must guard our heart. I like what author David White says about his friends thoughts on keeping your heart with all diligence: "He used to think it meant blocking his heart against any foreign intruder, standing guard before it with his rifle raised. Now, understanding the deceitfulness of his heart, he realizes it means keeping his heart before him at all times, with the sights of his rifle trained on it." Wow! Our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately as the prophet Jeremiah said (Jer. 17:9).

Now let’s apply it. Are you keeping your heart with ALL diligence? We all battle sin. We each struggle in a different areas; the struggle is evidence that we are not dead spiritually. Keep up the good fight. In Christ we are victorious. Don’t give up, keep battling no matter what sin is giving you trouble, but remember don’t focus on the sin, focus on Christ. After Solomon tells his son to keep his heart with all diligence he tells him how to do it in the preceding verses (Proverbs 4:24-27):

  1. Putting away from myself perverse and froward (contrary, complaining) speech (Proverbs 4:24)
  1. Faithfully keeping focused on Christ and what He wants me to do (Proverbs 4:25)
  2. Pondering, seriously considering, what way my feet are pointing in life (Proverbs 4:26).
  1. Not turning away from going God’s way, to go my way (Proverbs 4:27)
  1. Not compromising and removing my foot from any known sin in my life (Proverbs 4:27)

Are you giving 100% in guarding your heart or less? Are you determined, by God’s grace, to do His will for you? Your life or deadness in Christ will be evidenced by your attitude. Will you allow Christ to triumph in your heart/attitude?

2 Corinthians 2:14 "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place."

I pray this verse will be true of us.