14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.
Thank God for the creation of women! Women are the most wonderful creatures! Similar to us men, yet amazingly different in so many ways. Beautiful, fascinating, mysterious, alluring – and confusing and frustrating at times!
Of course, not all women are alike. There are many differences among them. One of the most important differences among the fairer sex is in the area of wisdom and foolishness. There are wise women and there are foolish women.
A wise woman knows the Three-Persons-With-One-Nature God of Israel. She knows our Heavenly Father, and Messiah Yeshua His Son and our Lord and Savior; and she has received the precious Holy Spirit. She knows about the salvation made possible by Messiah dying on the cross, and rising from the dead, which makes reconciliation with God, and atonement and eternal life possible. The wise woman embraces God’s provision of salvation. She knows that the Holy Writings are the divinely inspired and accurate and true Word of God. She systematically applies the principles in the Bible to her life. She is guided by its truths in her relationships with her husband and children and other family members.
Wisdom builds up a relationship, a home, a family, but foolishness – ignoring or contradicting the Lord’s commands – tears them down. Those women who ignore the Creator’s principles will harm their families just like a woman who with her own hands, harms her home by knocking holes in the walls, breaking the windows and leaving the water running in the bathtub so that it floods the home!
Women, do not tear down your home by attacking and belittling your children and husbands with insulting, hurtful words; by withholding your affection from your husband; by allowing romantic and sexual interest to develop with another man; by being lazy; by not being a good manager of money; by drinking so that you become a problem drinker; by giving into rage; by not supporting yourself, and encouraging your husband and children to be doing the basic spiritual disciplines like reading the Bible regularly, thinking about it, talking about it, hearing it being taught; praying regularly individually and together as a family; actively and regularly participating in the life of your congregation, serving, helping, pitching in; financially supporting the congregation; engaging in evangelism regularly – these are ways that you tear down your home with your own hands.
Ladies, make sure that you know the Lord and are living by God’s principles. If you do, you will build yourself up, and strengthen your marriage, and your children, and your husband. You will have a better and happier husband, a stronger marriage, and healthier and godly children.
14:2 He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is crooked in his ways despises Him.
Where there is no fear of God there is little motivation for right conduct. Yee-raht Adonai – the fear of the Lord -a good healthy respect for the God who is a consuming fire, should motivate us to conduct ourselves in the right way. Do you fear the Lord? Reverence your Creator? Honor and respect Him and His Word? Concerned about displeasing Him, sinning against Him, failing Him? That’s good!
There is an integral connection between morality and spirituality. You cannot be spiritual apart from being moral. To be good you must be godly. It is a false spirituality that is divorced from morality. Do not be seduced by any religion or philosophy that promises you some spirituality apart from doing what is right in the sight of the holy and pure Creator!
If you claim to fear the Lord – to know Him, to respect your Creator, to belong to Him, to serve Him, you had better live a life that is characterized by righteousness. You had better be walking a straight moral line. It is right to expect a straight, moral and righteous kind of life from those who claim to love the Righteous God, especially among those are leaders and teachers in Messiah’s Holy Community. They must have a high level of morality.
If a person is morally crooked, he shows that he has no true regard for God. There are many people today who call themselves Christians – followers of the holy Messiah, who twist important truths in the Word of God; or who are corrupt in their sexuality; or who deviously desire to go beyond proper monetary and financial boundaries. Their actions show that they that they despise the Lord – no matter what words claim or what their confession is. Beware of those who talk religion but aren’t righteous, who speak about piety but act perversely, who claim to honor the truth but live corrupt lives.
14:3 In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
Our words can be powerful – not because they are containers of power – which they aren’t – that’s magical, not biblical thinking – but because our words can affect us and other people, both for good and for bad. Our words, if they are stupid or wrong, can cause others, and us, much harm.
Post 9-11, haven’t you heard about the man in the process of board a plane who jokes about being a terrorist or having a bomb, and though he is joking, the guy is hauled away and thoroughly interrogated? Their words are not so funny then. I’ve heard stories about people who are angry with the president, and foolishly threaten to harm him, and they are overhead and arrested by the Secret Service.
The words of the wise protect them because they think before they speak. They say good things in the right time in the right way to the right people. They know the truth and they speak what is true, and other people, even if they disagree with them, come to respect them for it. And, the Lord respects them for speaking the truth in a wise way. The Lord has made it so that our words are essential for our salvation. In the Word of God, we are told that if we believe at the core of our being that Yeshua died and rose again, and He is alive now, and is the living Savior; and if we confess with our mouth to God and men, that Yeshua is the Lord, we will be saved. Someone wrote: Your words will make or break you, preserve you or punish you, especially your words about the things of God.
The Lord of truth likes truthful words appropriately spoken, and on the Day of Judgment, will reward us for those good words. And, everyone should also know that we are accountable for every foolish word that comes out of our mouths, and if we do not suffer immediate consequences for foolish words in this life, know that we will be judged for them one day. You want security and protection? You want a life that is safer? You want eternal life? Become wise, and speak the truth, and learn who to do so to the right people, in the right circumstances, and in the most appropriate way.
14:4 Where no oxen are the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox.
This is a challenge for entrepreneurs to work harder, work smarter, and expand their businesses. Inconvenience and extra work is the price of growth and accomplishment. There is no milk without manure. Only as we work hard, and invest in better tools and technology, do we get a larger return. If you don’t expand your business you will save yourself some headaches, but you won’t get as much increase either. In the family area, those who choose not to have children may spare themselves some aggravation, but they will also miss out on one of life’s greatest rewards.
14:5 A faithful witness will not lie, but a false witness speaks lies.
We must know and speak the truth, especially in important circumstances where we are called upon to do so as witnesses. A witness is one who is called upon to declare what he has seen or heard or knows. Why? God is truth. His Word is truth. He loves the truth. He cannot lie. He dislikes distortions of the truth. He hates lies. He will severely punish liars and false witnesses and perjurers. He rewards the faithful witness.
Truth is important because it is reality, and being in touch with reality is good! Lining up our minds and our lives and our words with the truth makes for a successful life. It pleases the God of truth, and He blesses those who do so.
For various reasons, not all witnesses are faithful witnesses. Some may not come forward and give the necessary information; if they do come forward, some may withhold information; some may distort the facts or lie. Some people tell lies because they mistakenly think they will be better off, or avoid trouble by lying; but lies can, and often do, create additional troubles. Over the past 40 years more than a few government officials and public servants have gotten in trouble, not for committing the crime they were being investigated for, but for trying to cover up a crime they may not have committed but knew about, and lying about it.
There can be unpleasant consequences for being a faithful witness. There are situations when people do not want the information of the witness to be revealed. Pressure and threats are applied to intimidate the witness from testifying fully and honestly. In these circumstances, it takes courage to be a faithful witness. It takes love for the truth, and for doing what is right, and for justice. It takes a willingness to be inconvenienced or to suffer.
Messiah Yeshua is the Faithful Witness. He never stopped declaring the truth, even when facing powerful opposition. He never gave in to intimidation. He never toned down the message. He always, in every circumstance, told human beings what is true. He always gave us accurate and reliable information. His information can be completely trusted.
When He spoke about the utter lostness of mankind, and His mission to rescue humans beings who believe in Him, and the realities of Heaven and Hell, and His eternal relationship to His Father, and His death to atone for sin, and Himself being the only way to everlasting life, and the peace that comes to those who follow Him, and the certainty of resurrection from the dead for those who follow Him, and the sure hope of eternal life for those who follow Him, we can rely on the truthfulness and the accuracy of what He said.
As the Word of God, He spoke truth to humanity before the Incarnation, during His incarnation, during His death, and after He rose from the dead; and He is still speaking to humanity. He is still and always will be the Faithful Witness!
Like the Son of God, the wise individual must tell the truth in all of his communications. He must be a faithful witness when called upon in some special circumstance when he has to testify about what he has seen or knows. We must be faithful witnesses about religious truth, because religious truth is so very very important and must be truthfully and courageously communicated. What God tells us in a whisper, we are to shout. We are to declare to the world the things we know about the God of Israel, the reliability of the Holy Scriptures, the way of righteousness, the path of salvation through Messiah, the realities of Heaven and Hell and eternal life. May we be faithful witnesses, willing to be inconvenienced, suffer, even die, in order to be like the Faithful Witness!
We start off our life with God confessing the truth that Yeshua is Lord. Throughout our walk with God we continue confessing what we know – that Yeshua is Lord. And, at the very end of our life, we are to die as faithful witnesses, confessing that Yeshua is Lord.
14:6 A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge is easy to him who has understanding.
A scoffer is someone does one or both of the following two things: 1 – He makes fun of the one true God – the God of Israel; 2 – he does not believe in the Word of God. A person can be a scoffer if he believes in God, but does not believe in the Holy Scriptures, that they are the divinely inspired Word of God.
A scoffer may be very smart in many areas. He may be intellectually gifted. He may be well informed on many subjects. He may have a Ph. D. in science or math. He may be an engineer, a nuclear physicist, or a great mathematician. He may be sophisticated, cultured, well-traveled and well-read. But, if he does not have the proper foundation for his knowledge, all his learning will never be integrated properly and he won’t achieve the necessary results.
It’s like the man who wants to building a glorious skyscraper, but neglects to build the proper foundation. The building may rise for a time, but it will always be unstable, and eventually will collapse. Those who dismiss the Creator and His revelation of Himself just don’t have the capacity to attain true wisdom and true life.
Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and is the foundation for properly integrating and applying knowledge, unless a person start at the beginning, and lays a good intellectual foundation on God and the Bible, his knowledge will ultimately fail him. He is will miss out on the most important things of all – being reconciled to God, and living forever, and being a person who know ultimate truth and therefore can really help others in the way they most need to be helped.
The great mathematician or physicist must become like a child, and develop a child-like trust in God and His Word, or the most important things in life will be hidden from him, and he will never attain wisdom, no matter how much he read or studies.
On the other hand, knowing that there is a great God who created everything, and who revealed Himself in the Special Writings, enables all other knowledge to be applied properly, all other information to be processed, all other academic disciplines to be integrated into a coherent worldview. It makes decisions that need to be made, and choices to come easier.
It happened to me. When I found God, all the intellectual pieces of the puzzle came together for me. Everything started making sense. I achieved the enlightenment that I was searching for. I started making much better decisions for my life.
Are you a scoffer who is seeking wisdom, but will not find it, because you dismiss the Creator and the Special Books, or are you experiencing the great intellectual and knowledge advantages that come from understanding the truth about God and the Bible?
14:7 Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.
All we like sheep… Human beings have a tendency to follow those around them. We are easily influenced by those we spend time with. Their ideas, attitudes and beliefs rub off on us. Since this is true, be careful who you spend time with. Don’t pick a fool as a friend. If you do, you will absorb their harmful ideas (God isn’t important; truth is relative; sex outside of marriage is good; lying isn’t that bad; divorce without biblical grounds is no big deal – everyone is doing it; live for today; you are here to have as much fun as possible), and you will start losing the ability to know the truth and then act on the truth. And, as a result, you will begin to experience loss.
14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.
The wise individual understands his way. He understands Life’s Big Picture – that the Great God of Heaven exists, that God is Three and yet One; that salvation is by grace alone, in response to our faith alone. We can never earn salvation or enter into eternal life by our good deeds – we will always fall short; that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of the Creator, and is accurate and trustworthy; that the New Heavens and the New Earth and the New Jerusalem and Gehenna, Hell, the Lake of Fire and the Second death are realities; that the Just Judge will reward the righteous and punish the wicked; that on the Day of Judgment, service and sacrifice will be richly rewarded, and disobedience to the will of God, and selfishness will be punished.
The wise individual understand these things, and thinks about the choices he making, and about his conduct and habits, and whether they are in keeping with God’s will and ways, or against them; and whether therefore they are helpful or harmful, and where they will lead him. The wise individual will have a sense of moral and spiritual direction. He will know where his choices will lead him.
But the foolish person does not clearly think through his choices, and where they will lead him. He ignores the implications of his actions. He doesn’t consider if what he id thinking and doing will bring him closer or farther to his Creator; if it will make him better or worse; if it will improve or corrupt his character. He tells himself that his stupid choices won’t really harm himself or others; that divorce isn’t that bad; that it won’t damage his children; that he’s immune to sexually transmitted diseases.
And, if not, there is some pill for it, so there won’t be any harmful long-term consequences; that the decision to have an abortion won’t be accompanied by guilt and regret and depression for years afterwards. The foolish individual deceives himself with his thoughtlessness, and his lack of foresight, and may fool others as well. Don’t be deceived by any foolish thing that opposes the will of God.
14:9 Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is good will (God’s will).
Fools – those who ignore God and His wise principles for living, often make fun of the concept of sin, or the principle that our sins need to be atoned for. They may laugh at the idea that God has commanded us to do some things and not other things; they may make fun of the idea of ultimate truth – that some things are right and other things are wrong, because God, who exists, is perfectly good and right and has made the universe line up with His goodness and His righteousness.
Much of post-Christian, post-modern western society, especially the intellectual and academic and media elites, laugh at the idea that there are absolutes; of right and wrong; of morality; God, and the Bible and sin and judgment and atonement. But upright human beings – those who know the Lord and are honest and sincere and truthful, realize that there is right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error. These moral and spiritual concepts are realities. Therefore they try to do the will of the Almighty, and they try not to sin against the Holy God or against other human beings.
14:10 The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.
Others have written: This expresses the privacy of happiness and sadness. There are sorrows so inward and private that the individual must bear it alone. The same holds true for some joys. One’s innermost feelings can’t be shared with another in the same way in which he experiences them. He can’t always communicate it even to those he is closest to.
The experience of each individual is unique. There is great diversity when it comes to human emotional experience. That’s why when we come together in a worship service, and we are singing beautiful songs, and praising the Lord together, and we sense we are close to the Lord, some people may be very happy, while others may be experiencing sadness. The one who is happy shouldn’t criticize the one who is feeling sadness over his sin, or over the broken life of someone who should be there with them praising the Great God of Heaven – but isn’t, because they have fallen away from the Lord.
The God of the Bible is not mere intellect. He is all-knowing, but the Supreme Being also has emotion. He feels, He loves, He hates. He is full of love and compassion for his pitiful creatures. The Son of God, by becoming a man, became our merciful and sympathetic High Priest. He knows each one of us to the core of our being. He understands our circumstances, and our trials and difficulties and sufferings; and He knows each one of our joys.
Human beings are aware of their own happiness or sadness, but not always fully aware of all the reasons for their happiness or sorrow; and we are less understanding of the emotional state of others. We are limited in our ability to understand and enter into other people’s feelings. Knowing that, the wise individual will try to be more like the Son of God and be more empathetic with others. He will try to understand their emotional condition, and laugh with those who are happy, and show sympathy and comfort to those who are sad.
14:11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish.
We have a house – a bigger and more permanent structure, versus a tent – generally a smaller and less expensive and more temporary structure; we have the wicked as opposed to the upright; we have destruction contrasted with flourishing like a flower – in another word – success.
A house is more solid, more stable and better furnished than a tent. A tent is flimsier, less enduring and has less belongings than a house. This tells us that the human being who knows Adonai, even though his life in this world appears to be more difficult, will have a truly successful life. He will have genuine prosperity. But, the one who ignores or opposes the will of God, even though he may appear to be stronger and wealthier and more successful, will have an unsuccessful life. Ultimately, he will lose it all. The little that he has will be taken away from him. His house, His life will be destroyed. So be smart! Choose the tent of right living and godly values and fearing the Lord and sacrificial service to Messiah over the house of immorality and greed and materialism and rebellion and an attitude of independence against the Creator.
14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the ways of death.
This is one of my favorite proverbs. This world is complicated and confusing. We try to do something that we think is a good idea, that we think will bring success and reward us for our efforts – like starting a new business venture – only to have it fail. Something like 80% if new businesses fail within the first 5 years. We are attracted to a person of the opposite sex and we marry, and he or she turns out to be of bad character, and commits adultery, and we wind up with a broken marriage and damaged children.
What we thought were good ideas and good plans, were in reality, bad ideas and bad plans that wound up harming us.
Make sure the way you are going is God’s way. Know the Lord. Find out what pleases Him. Before you act, think things through. Get good advice. Get godly counsel.
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the ways of death is also true, and potentially even more damaging, in the spiritual realm. Because of our rebellion against our good Creator; because of our sin and the fall of man, darkness covers the Earth, and a deep and profound spiritual darkness has engulfed the peoples. Humanity is without light, without God’s presence, without saving truth, without the spiritual knowledge that can save us, without victory, without eternal life. We live in a world that is ruled by the evil prince of darkness, that murderous fallen angel who is followed by an army of other fallen angels who want to destroy us. They create chaos and confusion among human beings. They want to keep us far from God, who is the source of life and salvation.
If the hosts of Hell can keep us in a state of chaos and confusion, we will continue in our sins, which will lead to our death – the First Death – physical death, followed by the Second Death – final spiritual death.
One of their ways of keeping us in this state of chaos and death is through the doctrines of demons – false faiths, wrong religions, false philosophies and erroneous ideologies. The adversary and his demonic associates have created ways that seem right to us, but are not right. These many false ways promise truth, salvation, happiness, eternal life, but because they are not based on the truth, they don’t work. They don’t fulfill what they offer; they don’t give what they promise. They keep us in this state of death that we are in.
A way may seem to be leading to the desired goal, but if it isn’t done God’s way, based on the truth, based on reality, it leads to destruction. The Son of God, who is never wrong, and who always told us the absolute truth, said that He is the way – the one and only way to God, truth, salvation, eternal life. If you have chosen any other way than Him and His way, you are on the wrong way. Get on the right way.
When it comes to spiritual truth, and salvation, there are many ways (plural) that seem right but are wrong. There is only one way that is right, because it is the one and true God’s one and true way. Make sure the way you have chosen is right, because it is God’s way, and not a way that seems right but is wrong.
14:13 Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief.
Appearances can be deceiving. We can’t always determine how a person is really feeling by their outward appearance. People might laugh or joke but still be in pain. Laughter can serve to cover up inward pain. Think of the class clown who joked around, disrupted the class and got in trouble because he had a need for attention, because he was unhappy at home. This is the story of many comedians, and also, some say, the origins of Jewish humor. It was because life was so difficult and painful for us for so many centuries, that we developed our unique style of humor that helped alleviate some of our suffering. If we could laugh about how bad things were, then it seemed like they really weren’t so bad.
The end of joy may be grief. Someone observed: While laughter may relieve the tension of one suffering grief, it may be only a temporary escape from the reality of a tragedy.
In this fallen and sinful and chaotic world, few, if any, will experience a life of complete happiness without any sorrow. Unhappiness follows happiness like winter follows summer. But think about it – for those who love the God of Israel, in the World To Come there will only be pure joy unmixed with any sorrow! Isn’t it therefore, logical, to be willing to serve the Lord, and deny the world, and suffer more now, and then enter into the Kingdom of God, and experience everlasting happiness?
14:14 The backslider (faithless) in heart will have his fill of his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied with his.
You reap what you sow. One’s ultimate success and happiness is determined by what is in the core of his being. From the core of his being come his thoughts; from his thoughts his deeds; and from his deeds come his success or failure, and his happiness or his regrets.
If someone rejects the Lord and His ways, he will be fighting against the Creator and the moral and spiritual and religions laws that He has built into His universe. It is a losing battle which will end in defeat and sadness and loss. But, if at the center of who one is, a person knows the God of the Bible, and loves Him, and makes a commitment to serve the Great God, and lines up his life and thoughts and habits and deeds and character with the Lord and His wise principles, he will be going with God and the universe, and will go from strength to strength, and advance and achieve and eventually find success, blessing, happiness and a great reward.
One of the most miserable creatures is a backslider in heart – a person who has known the good God, but has turned away from Him and His good principles. Stop backsliding. It’s not worth it. Instead, return to the Lord, and find real satisfaction by living a godly life.
14:15 The naive believes everything, but the prudent man considers his steps.
The simple, naive individual believes almost everything he hears. He is too trusting. He does not engage in careful critical thinking, judgment, discernment. He is gullible. He is vulnerable to being easily manipulated. He ignores the fact that human beings are not good. After the Fall of man, humanity has been corrupted. Sin has affected every part of who we are. We are not good, we are corrupt, fallen sinners in need of atonement, bad people in need of redemption. But, the naive person thinks people are basically good and can be trusted when the Word of God and the most casual observation tells us the opposite.
Early in his ministry, we are told that while the Messiah was in Jerusalem during Passover, many people saw the miracles He was doing and believed in Him. But Yeshua would not entrust Himself to them. Why? Why not trust those who believed in Him? Because He knew all men. He knew that fallen human beings are not trustworthy, that many will easily believe, then quickly turn away because their belief was not deeply rooted in true knowledge, and good character.
Many Christians are not like our wise Chief Rabbi. They believe everything their pastor teaches. They will accept virtually any foolishness if a religious leader is popular or charismatic. Many Christians today too readily trust men and women and their ministries that aren’t doctrinally solid, aren’t honest, aren’t Messiah-centered. They believe revelations that aren’t revelations, claims of miracles that are not real miracles, healings that aren’t real healings. They accept all kinds of bizarre phenomena as true spiritual experience.
The simple, naive individual, when he is told by society that he must be tolerant, embraces a twisted understanding of tolerance. True tolerance means trying to be gracious, and treating fairly and being at peace with those who differ or disagree with us. But, true tolerance does not demand that you believe that there are no absolutes, no rights and no wrongs, that all religions, all gods, all ideas, all opinions and all practices are equally valid and beneficial and good and true. The prudent, wise individual understands that we can be tolerant of the sinner but at the same time intolerant of his sin, not embracing the twisted idea that sin or error is acceptable.
The wise individual is not naive. He knows that there is a distinction between critical thinking and being judgmental. He does not fall for a twisted interpretation of “Don’t judge so that you won’t be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Some people misunderstand the Lord’s words to mean that we should not make any judgments at all. That’s not what Messiah was talking about.
Don’t judge does not mean that we are not to be discerning and wise, and make determinations between good and evil, between the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error. It doesn’t mean that we can’t engage in critical thinking, and reject that which is false.
Don’t judge doesn’t mean that you can’t call a false prophet a false prophet. How do we know that? In this same sermon the Messiah, who told us, “Don’t judge”, tells us that He wants us to discern false prophets among us. We are to identify them and reject them. Elsewhere He tells us to make a right judgment. “Do not judge according to appearance, but according to righteous judgment” (John 7:24). God wants us to see clearly into people and situations and doctrinal matters. We are to make things out clearly, analyze, know right from wrong, good from bad, truth from error.
Paul insists we that judge those who are within the Church, and police ourselves by recognizing bad behavior and doctrine, and dealing with it (1 Corinthians 5:12). When it comes to prophetic announcements, we are told to examine everything carefully and hold fast to that which is good and reject what is false (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).
Don’t judge doesn’t mean that we can’t analyze the facts and information we have about people and situations and doctrinal matters and make an intelligent response. It doesn’t mean that we can’t recognize that something is seriously wrong in a congregation, or in someone’s life or teaching or ministry, and that something needs to be done to correct that situation. It certainly doesn’t mean ignoring people’s sin or pretending the problem doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter.
Don’t judge doesn’t mean that we can’t call what is bad “bad” and what is good “good,” or to identify something wrong as wrong, or something heretical as heretical. The same principle of critical thinking and judgment applies to doctrine. We must examine it carefully and determine whether it is sound or false doctrine. So destructive is false teaching to its victims that Yeshua and the Biblical writers referred to the purveyors of spiritual falsehood as hypocrites, blind guides, fools, blind men, snakes, brood of vipers, unreasoning animals, stains, blemishes, hidden reefs, clouds without water, springs without water, mists driven by storm, trees doubly dead, wild waves, wandering stars; or call them false teachers, evil workers, false brothers, false circumcision, grumblers, flatterers, mockers, liars, ungodly sinners, conceited, understanding nothing, men of depraved minds, empty talkers and deceivers. We are responsible, both to warn them about the punishment, judgment and destruction they will experience, and to warn others against falling prey to their deception.
Don’t judge means that we are not to condemn people to Hell, to dismiss them as beyond repentance, or say that they are beyond the scope of God’s kindness and mercy. Like our merciful God we are to have a merciful attitude toward them. We are to hope and pray for them to repent and live. Someone put it this way: “Messiah is not giving us a requirement to be blind but a plea to be generous and merciful with others. Yeshua is not telling us to abandon our powers of discernment and cease to be intelligent people, but to renounce the ambition to be God. He is the Judge. He will assess all blame, weigh all lives, pass all judgment, take into account all factors.”
What Yeshua is talking about here is a critical, judgmental attitude that quickly passes sentence and condemns, without any regard for seeking restoration. It refers to people who are overly critical, who have an unreasonable emphasis on faults or defects in others, while conveniently ignoring their own.
The naive believes everything, but the prudent man considers his steps. The naive, simple gullible person too readily responds to appeals to his emotions, rather than to his intellect. The naive, simple gullible person is too impressed with a good talk, an idea that seems to be motivated by kindness, but not interested in the practical outworking of the idea, whether it will work in the real world. If someone tells him that they have good intentions, a good plan, a kind idea, that is enough for the naive individual. It doesn’t matter if the plan won’t work in real life, and will only create more problems. The gullible person does not understand that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
The naive, simple gullible person gives money to unworthy ministries and causes – like the Internal Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and prosperity teachers, and other false teachers and false prophets, and other so-called Christians frauds and con-artists.
The naive, simple gullible person believes that every man of God is pure, and that every word the pastor preaches is true.
The naive, simple gullible person doesn’t knows that politics takes place in the Church, and sometimes it can be quite dirty.
The prudent, wise individual doesn’t believe everything he reads or sees or hears. He errs on the side of caution. He knows human nature is corrupt, and people readily lie and cheat. He takes peoples’ claims, even if they are religious people, with a grain of salt. He knows that if something is too good to be true, it probably is not true. He tests the spirits, he investigates people’s claims. He learned about and researches a situation. He does due diligence. He thinks logically and uses judgment and discernment. He seeks good advice. He thinks things through before he acts.
He does not believe that everyone who simply says a sinners prayer is saved. He understands that not all who say “Lord Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but those who truly do the will of God who will enjoy eternity in the New Jerusalem.
He understands the parable of the seed and the sower, and there will be people who initially respond to what the Good News promises with enthusiasm and happiness: they want everlasting salvation offered by God the Father and Messiah the Son and the life-giving and transforming power of the Holy Spirit; they quickly respond but then quickly fall away because they are not willing to endure persecution to gain eternal life. Then, there will be some who endure longer, but get seduced by materialism and pleasure and turn away from the Lord.
He understands that it is the one who endures to the end, and shows himself to be faithful to God, to truth, to righteousness, who will be saved. It is the one who endures the trials and challenges of being a disciple of the Crucified One, whom the world rejected and still rejects, who will be saved. Like the disciples, the wise prudent person asks himself: “Where else can I go – You, Son of God, have the words of eternal life?”
14:16 A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.
A fool who ignores the Lord and doesn’t implement His wise principles for living is arrogant. He doesn’t trust the wisdom that comes from God and His Word. He is overly confident in himself, and his abilities, and his knowledge.
Because the fool does not see the big picture of Creation, the Fall, the Creation of Israel, the Giving Of the Word Of God, the Coming of the Messiah to reconcile us to God; because he doesn’t understand the realities of sin and death and righteousness and holiness and redemption and resurrection and judgment and Heaven and Hell, and salvation by grace through faith – the fool is overly confident in himself and his abilities and is not as careful as he should be. He ignores the warning signs and the red flags that things are seriously wrong. He keeps making mistakes that could be avoided. He causes himself and others harm, and may cause himself ultimate harm – the Second and Final Death in the Lake of Fire.
Someone wrote: The fool is rash and self assured. He lacks self-restraint and self-criticism. Therefore his inflated estimate of himself gives him a false sense of security and he keeps getting into trouble.
A wise man who knows the Three-In-One Creator knows that this world is under the power of the evil one. He knows this world is full of dangers. He knows human beings are sinners and untrustworthy. He is cautious. He is able to see danger coming and take the proper actions to avoid it. He gets himself out of potentially bad situations before they develop. He considers his path and picks his steps with deliberation, with thought, with care, with wisdom, with discernment. He thinks about where his choices are likely to lead him, and then chooses the good and right ways that lead to a God-blessed outcome.
14:17 A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.
A quick-tempered man will do things that he will later regret. Don’t lose your temper. You can control it! If you are a child of God, you have the Spirit of God living in you. One of the good things He produces in us is self-control. You can control your temper with the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God. Don’t loose your temper. Don’t act in the heat of anger. Try to remain calm under provocation. Make sure you cool down before you respond. Then you will be able to think things through, formulate your decision, and plan your response. Then act.
Bad people, who because of their insensitivity to God and to others, and because they ignore or disobey God’s good principles, cause harm to others. As a result, they will eventually acquire a lot of enemies. Don’t be bad because you think it is cool, and your friends are bad. Don’t be bad because you think you will be better off. You won’t be – not if better off means having good friends.
14:18 The naive inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
The naive, simple gullible person, if he refuses to learn from his mistakes, and learn from God, and listen to those who have wisdom because they know the Torah and the Prophets and the Writings and the New Testament Scriptures, will inherit a useless lifestyle. He will drift into temptation, sin and spiritual death.
The prudent and wise individual knows the ways of God and Scripture and also the ways of the world. He is smart, shrewd, crafty and cautious. He is shrewd as a snake but as harmless as a dove. He acts with knowledge. He gets wiser and wiser as he ages. He makes fewer and fewer mistakes. His knowledge gives him a blessed and successful life – which is a life that the Lord considers successful, and life that is worthy of honor and reward.
14:19 The evil will bow down before the good, and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
Evil human beings may lie and cheat and murder to get ahead. The meek, the humble, the gentle, who fear God, and play by His rules, are unwilling to lie and cheat and steal and murder to achieve their goals. As a result, the good may suffer and be oppressed by the evil. Those who are committed to doing the right things may seemingly be the losers in this life, but the reality is they will be the ultimate winners.
It’s like the geek or the nerd that the jocks pick on during highschool, who winds up owning the company and becoming their boss. The gentle and the meek, not those who aggressively and wickedly rise to positions of power, will inherit the Earth. Ultimately the wicked will submit to the righteous, and the righteous will be the new ruling class of the universe. You want real power that will last? Be patient, and chose the way of goodness and righteousness! Do things the Lord’s way, even if it means seeing the God-ignorers in places of power now.
14:20 The poor is hated even by his neighbor, but those who love the rich are many.
Money makes the world go round. The world judges us by our level of income. People love the rich. They are easy to like – especially if they are generous. On the other hand the poor man is not liked. When was the last time you saw a show about the lifestyles of the poor and obscure? The poor person is seen as a liability by his friends. His friendship can become a burden. May we not judge people by how much money they have, remembering that the way we value human beings must be different from the way the world values people.
Don’t hate the poor just because they are poor, and don’t admire the rich just because they are rich. Let’s remember the values of the Lord. Messiah said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God… But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
He told us that it is harder for a rich man to get into Heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle. He commended the poor widow who donated two small copper coins to the Temple, letting us know that her small gift was more praise-worthy in God’s sight than the wealthy donors because she gave generously out of her poverty. It was poor and hungry and sick Lazarus who was blessed with salvation, not the well-dressed rich man who lived in splendor. The Lord will fill the godly hungry with good things and send away the uncaring rich empty-handed.
14:21 He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor.
Not only are we are not to hate the poor, we are obligated to help them. My economic philosophy is that of capitalism and free markers and smaller government and fewer government programs and more individual responsibility. But, we must make sure the basic needs of human beings in our society are being met. We are our brothers’ keeper. We must have compassion for those who are not sufficiently well-off. We sin if we do not try to make sure the needs of the poor are being met.
We are to be gracious and give to the poor, and we should be gracious in the way we give to him. We want to give charity in such a way that the person we are giving to is not humiliated.
Since it is better to give than to receive, and since the Lord, who is good, and is concerned about the well-being of humanity, blesses the godly, generous man, when we are generous with the poor, we ourselves will be blessed and happier people.
14:22 Will they not go astray who devise evil? But kindness and truth will be to those who devise good.
Those who plan things that are against the will of God, not only displease the Lord, and harm other human beings, but they also harm themselves. Those who plot evil hurt not only others, but also injure themselves. They send themselves astray. It doesn’t make sense to plan to do anything that is wrong. Are you? Planning for divorce? Adultery? Drug use? Theft?
The opposite is true. Those who make plans to do good for others will find that their own souls, lives and minds are enriched with kindness and truth. They will experience kindness and faithfulness from the Creator and from good people. Devise plans to do good, and it will be good for you.
Devising evil involves planning. Devising good involves well thought out and careful planning. Do you have any plans to benefit others, or is all your planning designed just to benefit you and your little family, and your career? Have a well-thought out plan to do good to others, and you will be blessed!
14:23 In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Watch out for those who substitute words for actions. Talk is cheap. Show us what you can do, not just mere words. Stop bragging about your big plans. Complete them first and then talk about it. You will get around to getting that job, when? When you are right on the verge of losing everything, and being thrown out on the street? You will get around to doing your homework, when? Doing house repairs, when?
14:24 The crown of the wise is their riches, but the folly of fools is foolishness.
Understanding the world of God and the world of man, and knowing the Lord’s wise principles for living, may lead to an increase in wealth. And, if it does, it is fitting for the wise to have that wealth. The wise individual will know how to best employ those resources, and use his wealth well. And, since people admire the wealthy, they might also come to love his wisdom – which would be a very good thing!
Wealth is a fitting for the wise, but is not fitting for those who ignore the truths that God has designed into the universe. The stupid ways of those who ignore God’s wise principles for living generally will not result in wealth and honor, but in a meaningless, senseless life.
Others have noted that wealth doesn’t turn a fool into a wise man. Even if a fool gains wealth, he is still foolish. Fools, if they have money, will tend to use it foolishly.
14:25 A truthful witness saves lives, but he who utters lies is treacherous.
When we are called upon in a legal situation to be a witness of something we have seen, heard or know, much can be at stake. Peoples lives can be at stake. The God of truth requires us to courageously tell the truth. We must not lie. That would be a betrayal of God, who loves the truth, and a betrayal of those whose lives would be harmed by our deception.
We may not be called upon to be a witness in a court of law, but every son and daughter of God is called upon to be a faithful witness. From the day they come to know that the God of Israel is the one true and living God, and that Messiah Yeshua is His Son, and our King, our Savior and Redeemer; from the moment they understand that the Bible is the word of the living God, and that it tells us that mankind is utterly lost and headed to death and judgment and Hell, and that there is good news – the Father and His Son have made salvation possible, those children of God need to be bold and courageous and faithful witnesses. They must not tell a lie that there are other ways of salvation. They must not live a lie of omission – by living as if these life-saving truths aren’t important, and worth suffering for. Are you a witness to the truth? Or, are you betraying the Lord and the Gospel by your compromised silence?
14:26 In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence (or security), and his children will have refuge.
This world can be a chaotic, unstable, insecure place. People want safety, and they look for it in money, in group affiliations, political parties, in relationships with other human beings, and in other places. But, genuine security is only found in knowing the Creator of the universe, and understanding how great He is, and then respecting Him by living your life according to His reasonable commands, good principles and will. Those who do that will find that they have a kind of security better than social security! It is the kind of security that gives peace of mind even in the midst of trials. It is the kind of security that can enable them to endure life in this chaotic world, and with courage and grace even face death!
The security that comes to human beings because they fear the Lord is a security that extends protection to their children. The one who knows and respect his Maker will find that his children, if they follow in his ways, will also have a refuge from all of the many dangers of life.
There is more to being a good parent than providing food, clothes, love and education. You must give them the security that comes from the fear of the Lord. Be a good parent! Fear the Lord. Obey Him yourself and implant respect for God deep into the lives of your children.
14:27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.
We need water to live. Without this life-sustaining, life-giving liquid, we die. Cities need sources of abundant and good water in order for them to prosper. Knowing who the great God of Heaven is, and respecting Him enough to find out His will, and then purposely doing the things that please Him, and also ceasing from doing those things that displease Him, is like drinking from a fountain that gives abundant life-giving waters. Those who respect the Lord will prosper. They will have a richer and more meaningful and more abundant life. They will have new life, a better kind of life that comes from God Himself. They will have a successful life in this world, and eternal life in the World To Come!
The world has it backwards. It thinks that if you ignore God and do your own thing, you will have a better life. Not so! Ignoring the Creator cuts us off from life, and brings meaninglessness, unhappiness and death.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death. Sin and death are like hunters who are continually laying traps to catch and kill ignorant human beings. For Kayin (Cain), the forces of sin and death were like a vicious animal just outside the door of his home, wanting to get in and capture and devour him. If you know and respect and obey the Three-In-One God, you will be able to avoid those traps. If you don’t fear your Maker you will inevitably be caught by one of those deadly snares, and you will die – the First Death – physical death, followed by the Second Death – eternal death in the Lake of Fire, and you do not want to experience the Second Death! And, it can be avoided!
14:28 In a multitude of people is a king’s glory, but in a dearth of people is a prince’s ruin.
When it comes to the influence of nations and their leaders, numbers count. The amount of people in a nation are one of the factors that determine national prestige. The more people, the greater the power and influence and glory a nation generally has. Which nation is considered more important? China or Laos? Whose leaders get more respect in world affairs? India’s, with 17.5% of the world’s population, or the leaders of the Republic of Nauru, an island nation in the Micronesian South Pacific with 10,000 people?
Greater population may result in greater honor for political leaders, and the same thing tends to be true of religious communities. The Catholic Church receives much recognition from the world because of its size.
Bigger congregations generally exert a bigger influence than smaller congregations, and the bigger congregation and its leaders often receive greater honor than a small congregation and its leaders. But, bigger isn’t necessarily better and more worthy of honor in God’s estimation! The Soviet Union grew in numbers and influence by taking over weaker nations, and bringing them under horrible communist repression. But because of their foolish philosophy, the Soviet Union was inherently flawed, and resented by the peoples it took over, and eventually it lost control over those nations who gained independence.
Churches and ministries can grow large and gain some honor among people, even though their growth is not good growth. Instead of being faithful to the Lord and His Word, they can grow by tickling the ears of people, and telling them what they want to hear – that their life in this world will be easier, and they will increase their money by the prosperity teaching. They may substitute entertainment for the call to discipleship and engaging in personal evangelism, and holiness and the way of the cross, and the path of suffering.
The world favors the great above the small, but the Lord often favors the small above the great. Why did God choose little Israel to accomplish the geulah – the redemption of the world? Why didn’t He choose a bigger and more powerful and influential nation, like the Babylonian or Egyptians empires, to fulfill His purpose to restore the world to Himself? Wouldn’t a bigger nation have served Him better?
Yet the Torah reveals that God specifically chose us because we were not the mightiest among the nations, but the smallest of the nations. The Lord chose us because we were small, and surrounded by larger and more powerful nations, like a sheep among wolves, in order that we would have to depend on Him, that we should always know that our strength was to be found in Him; that our small nation, if we trusted in God, would be invincible! The Almighty chose our small nation so that the other nations would be impressed by the greatness of our God!
Yes, the Lord often favors the smaller rather than the larger. Remember how Gideon and his 300 fought against 120,000 Midianites – 400 to one – so that Israel would not be boastful, saying, “My own power has saved me” and understand that the Lord is the source of victory.
Consider Samson, who without the empowering of the Spirit was an ordinary man, but with the Spirit, once fought and killed 1,000 soldiers. Even when captured, blind and weakened, one man was able to kill 3,000 Philistines!
Then there was Elijah, who, standing virtually alone, defeated 850 false prophets supported by a powerful and evil king and queen because he knew the Lord was the true God. The Most High enabled the few to win against the many.
Elisha overcame an entire army from Syria and captured them because he knew that those spiritual powers protecting him were greater than the army that opposed him. The Lord blessed the few more than an army!
The Maccabees experienced amazing victory after amazing victory over the armies sent by Antiochus, when the odds were sometimes 15 to one against them! They believed that many would be defeated by the few because God can save by many or by few, and strength and victory come from God! And the Lord honored them, and not their numerous enemies.
When the Son of God came to Earth, He did not come with mighty armies of angels. He came alone. The One who created the Earth, and the mighty sun, the moon and trillions of stars, who made the billions of galaxies and set them in their places; who created the millions of angels and living beings and cherubeem and serafeem, left His place at the right hand of God, and alone came among us. The salvation of the entire human race depended on that one man, and God’s favor was His!
Is it any surprise that years later Yeshua taught His disciples: the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of seeds. Another time Yeshua said to His disciples: Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. It was the little flock, made up of the few who knew and believed in and followed Yeshua, whom God chose to experience eternity in God’s great kingdom! It was not the big flock made up of the God-uncaring majority.
When Yeshua became an adult, large crowds followed Him, and sometimes many disciples, but at His death, He was left with very few. Most of His disciples abandoned Him. But His Father stood with Him, and raised Him back to life. Then the Resurrected One appeared to His eleven disciples, and from that small beginning, those eleven men turned their world upside down. A movement of faith, light, salvation, redemption and goodness began with those few men, and 2,000 years later has spread to every nation in this world!
Those of us who are part of Congregation Shema Yisrael are not numerous. Messianic Jews are not numerous. We are a tiny minority within a minority – but that’s OK. True born-again-Bible-believing-really-saved-and-genuinely-redeemed Christians are a minority within Christendom, but’s that’s OK! That’s a good thing, and Rabbi Paul gives us the reason: “For consider your calling, brothers, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. Let him who boasts, boast in Adonai.” Among Messiah’s Community, when it comes to genuine honor that will last, it is love for the truth, and holiness and zeal that counts – not numbers – and we have a little of that, so be encouraged!
14:29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.
Most of us get angry too easily. The wise individual learns how recognize when he is getting angry. He learns how to recognize when he is angry. He learns how to control his anger so that he doesn’t say or do things that are inappropriate and harmful to others and embarrassing to himself. The wise man knows that there are particular things and circumstances and situations and people that annoy and upset him. He understands that there are “buttons” that people who know him well, particularly his family members, can push, to provoke him.
The person with understanding takes this knowledge about himself, and the things that annoy him, and prevents himself from losing his temper. He becomes slow to anger. He learns not to immediately respond to a provocative person or situation. He will take his time, and think through the situation, before he responds. He will deal with things when he is calm, and in his time, in his way. Don’t be goaded into an angry, stupid response. Cool down before you respond. Don’t discipline your children when you are angry. You can do it! With faith in God, and the Spirit of God living in you and empowering you, you can control your anger.
14:30 A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones.
What the Scriptures have taught for centuries – that the heart, which is the core of our being (our thoughts and beliefs and convictions), can be a source of health or illness for our bodies – science is just finding out. There is connection between our mental and emotional state and our physical well-being. Psychosomatic illnesses are a reality. Strong emotions like worry, anxiety, depression, and anger can cause physical symptoms.
Since a tranquil heart gives life and health to the body, if you want to have a longer and healthier life, make sure develop peace at the core of who you are. How? You must start with peace with God. You can’t have peace at the center of yourself until you established a right relationship with your Creator. If you have a broken relationship with God, you will never have genuine peace in your soul.
You establish a right relationship with God by understanding that He exists; that He is the Supreme Person; that Yeshua is His eternal Son, and our Savior. You get to know God and trust Him, His Son and His Word – the Bible. If you know the Three-In-One God, and know that you are saved, and will live forever, you will have peace. Messiah said: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you… I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. For those who know and trust the Father and the Son, Messiah promised: Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. If you want your heart to be trouble free, fully commit your life to Messiah Yeshua.
Then, as much as you can, be at peace with your fellow man. Go out of your way to be a peace-maker. Be gracious and forgiving. Apologize quickly to others when you have wronged them. Be quick to forgive. Don’t hold grudges.
Learn to be at peace with your circumstances. If you have the basic needs of life, try to be satisfied with your financial condition. Trust God’s sovereignty and providence. Trust your God that both good and difficult circumstances are in His control, and somehow all things will work together for your good.
Be at peace with yourself. Have a clean conscience. Try to do the right things. If your conscience is bothering you, deal with it. Get things right.
Be at peace with God, with people, with your circumstances, and with yourself. It will be good for you!
14:31 He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.
Parents, if you have a child, and someone hurts your child, they offend you and they dishonor you and they hurt you. The Father of mankind cares deeply about all human beings because we are made in His image. Like Him, we have mind and personality and emotion and will. Therefore each man, each woman, is precious. They must not be neglected, or taken advantage of, or left without the basic necessities of life. If they are, this offends and dishonors God – and believe me – you don’t want to offend your Creator, before whom you will appear one day; your Creator, who is like a fire that is able to burn up everything it comes in contact with.
We are responsible for our fellow human beings. We are our brother’s keeper, and Keeper of the World has made it so. If we claim to know the Lord, we in particular must be aware of the needs of the poorest in our society, and try to help them. If we do, our Father in Heaven is pleased and He is honored by our actions.
14:32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge (NIV).
Those who ignore God and His ways do not have strong, stable, enduring lives, despite all appearances to the contrary. Those who ignore or oppose the Lord and His commands may seem to be strong and successful. They may seem to have achieved a lot, but it is a mirage. They are living in a house of cards that is about to collapse. They are standing in quicksand and about to sink. They are opposing God and the universe that the Creator designed to function according to His will. They will discover that when great difficulties come, they don’t have anything solid to fall back on for support.
And, they have no refuge when they die. They are limited to this short and pathetic life. Therefore, when calamities come; when difficult trials arrive, especially the final trial of death, the wicked will be brought down from their high place. Eventually they will lose it all!
But the tzadik, the one who is right with God, and obediently and faithfully strives to do the things that are right, is supported. He has support now in this life, and forever in the life to come! He is secure in this life and will find a place of refuge beyond this life – a refuge from the destructive and powerful forces of sin and death, and a refuge from the Second Death – Hell.
Since this is reality, it only makes sense to commit yourself to becoming righteous – getting right with God, and then living in a way that pleases Him. Are you?
14:33 This can be translated and understood in several ways. I prefer: Wisdom rests in the heart of the discerning, and even among fools she lets herself be known.
Those who come to know the Lord and His Word and His ways and apply this information to the decisions they make in all areas of life, will experience peace and rest. Their life will have a peaceful and restful quality because they have wisdom at the core of their being. You want peace? You want to experience wonderful rest? Get wisdom and allow discernment to permeate your thinking. Learn what the Lord wants, and what He values, and line up your life and values and priorities according to His will.
Fools ignore wisdom, but since wisdom is so prevalent – it is everywhere throughout creation; it is woven into the designs of nature; it is found among the animals; it is present among human beings; it is discovered in books, in music, in art – occasionally even fools will bump up against wisdom and hopefully recognize wisdom for what it is, and be benefitted by it.
14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
A case can be made that the United States is the greatest nation the world has seen. Why? America had a great religious foundation that led to its exaltation. Most of the Founding Fathers were extremely influenced by the Bible and a Biblical worldview. They quoted the Word of God in their writings and speeches far more than anything else. I think a majority of those who attended the Continental Congress were ministers.
Our form of government, our legal system, our moral standards, our religious institutions, our schools (many of the universities in the country were founded to teach theology and to train men to be ministers. For 200 years the Bible was taught in our public schools), in fact, much of our culture, was based on the Bible, on the one true and living God, and therefore on the Lord’s righteous standards.
This righteous foundation, along with a huge and productive land that was sheltered from enemies, and the advance of science and technology, led to America’s exaltation. But, that started changing after World War Two. Since then we have been losing the fear of God. There has been a dramatic decline in pure religion, which is the core, the center, the pillar of righteousness.
Here are the results from Barna’s 2007 Annual Tracking Study. It shows that Biblical Views of Americans are decreasing. Most American adults say that their religious faith is very important in their life. Two-thirds of the nation’s adult population firmly embraces the idea that their most important purpose is to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. However, a deeper look at people’s full array of spiritual beliefs and behavior calls into question the sincerity of their commitment.
The Barna study shows that commitment to orthodox biblical perspectives is slipping in a number of areas. The 2007 study of the nation’s core beliefs found that five out of six theological perspectives have shifted in recent years away from traditional Biblical views. This includes perspectives about three spiritual figures: God, Jesus, and Satan.
Most Americans still embrace a traditional view of God, but they are less likely than ever to do so. Currently two-thirds of Americans believe that God is best described as the all-powerful, all-knowing perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today (66%). However, this proportion is lower than it was a year ago (71%) and represents the lowest percentage in more than twenty years of similar surveys.
Few adults possess biblical views about Jesus and the Devil. Currently, just one-third of Americans strongly disagree that Jesus sinned (37%). In other words, 63% think He may have sinned. And just one-quarter strongly reject the idea that Satan is not a real spiritual being (24%). In other words, 76% don’t believe Satan is a real spiritual being. Each of these beliefs is lower than last year and among the lowest points in nearly two decades of tracking these views.
The other changes in beliefs include greater reluctance to explain their faith to other people (just 29% strongly endorse this view, compared with 39% in 2006) and the willingness to reject good works as a means to personal salvation (down to 27% from 31%).
Given these shifts, it is ironic that the only religious belief that was unchanged from previous years was the belief that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. Not quite half of Americans (45%) strongly assert this perspective.
American Spiritual Activity: The 2007 study showed that among the ten activities studied, Americans are most likely to pray. More than four out of every five Americans (83%) said they had prayed in the last week. This was followed by attending a church service (43%) and reading the Bible outside of church worship services (41%). Notably, just one-quarter of adults possess an active faith, meaning they engage in all three of these activities (pray, attend church, and read the Bible in a typical week).
Another element of spiritual engagement is evangelism. While most Americans are more skittish than usual about explaining their faith to others who hold different religious views, among born again Christians a majority (61%) said they had personally explained their faith to someone else in the past year with the hope that the person would accept Jesus Christ as their savior. This was on par with previous tracking data from the California-based firm.
Identity and Commitment: The study also examined people’s spiritual identity. For instance, 83% of Americans identified as Christians, yet only 49% of these individuals described themselves as absolutely committed to Christianity. The remaining portion of the adult population (about 17% of Americans) was split almost equally between those who aligned with another faith and those who describe themselves as atheist or agnostic. These indicators of faith identity are also on par with earlier Barna research.
In terms of denominational affiliation, one-quarter of adults identify as attenders of Catholic churches (23%), which is about half the size of the Protestant-attending segment (49%).
“Born again Christians” are defined as people who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.
“Evangelicals” are peo