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The Principle of the Path

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2023 7:00 pm

The Principle of the Path

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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May 28, 2023 7:00 pm

There are two kinds of people, two choices, and one ultimate reality. Pastor Mike Karns preaches from the book of Proverbs.


Let me say a word of thanks to you for praying for Carly and I on our two-week trip away from you in Zimbabwe. It was a good, I believe, a good trip, a fruitful time. I think maybe, you know, God answers prayer all the time and many times we're not as conscious of that, but there were too many things that transpired that we were able to trace back. You know, there's got to be faithful people praying for us, for us to be where we are, for us to be enjoying what we're enjoying, for us to be healthy and so on and so forth. So thank you for praying. I'll be giving a more formal report. I probably should say Carly and I will be giving a more formal report in a few weeks out. I'll be preaching Sunday morning so I won't be able to do that on Sunday night for the next couple of weeks and then I'm away for a week of vacation.

But sometime in the next three or four weeks we will bring a report to you. But I do bring you greetings from the churches in Zimbabwe. It is four o'clock in the afternoon there.

The church is already gathered for corporate worship. And I was so encouraged I had some people say, you know, Lord woke me up in the middle of the night and while I was up and around I prayed for you. And I thought, well, because there's six hours time difference you probably don't realize how critical that praying was in the middle of the night.

It wasn't the middle of the night where we were. So again, thank you. Well, this is a message that has been percolating in me for several years. I've worked on it and set it aside and worked on it and set it aside and thought about it many, many times. And I just believe God has led me to bring this message to you this morning. The title of my message is The Principle of the Path. The Principle of the Path. Everybody here this morning is on a path. And that path, whatever it is and whatever it looks like, leads to a destination. It is on that path we make our way in this life. And you should be able to follow me rather easily this morning because the verse that is printed in your side of your bulletin right under Beacon Baptist Church and right before the order of worship is the verse that I will be forming my sermon from. Proverbs 27 verse 12, a prudent man foresees evil and hides himself.

The simple pass on and are punished. Probably the reason this verse has been percolating for several years is I thought, you know what, could I bring a 45 minute message on just that one verse? Well, several, five, ten years ago I couldn't have and maybe three or four years I couldn't have, but I'm going to try and squeeze an hour sermon into 40 minutes right now. So, messages have a way of growing in your mind. And since it is just one verse, let me give it to you in five other translations. Again, this is the New King James Version in your bulletin. A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself. The simple pass on and are punished. Hear it in the New International Version. The prudent sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. The English Standard Version. The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go and suffer for it.

The New American Standard. A prudent person sees evil and hides himself, but the naive proceed and pay the penalty. The Amplified Bible says a prudent man sees evil and hides himself and avoids it, but the naive who are easily misled continue on and are punished by suffering the consequences of sin. I want to make four observations from this one verse and build a sermon around these four observations.

Let me give them to you and then we'll proceed. Observation number one, I want you to see two kinds of people in this verse. There is the prudent or the wise person and then there is the simple or the naive or the foolish person. First observation. The second observation, we are confronted with one ultimate reality in this verse and it's danger or evil. Observation number three. There are two choices in relationship to this ultimate reality of danger or evil.

Taking refuge or keep going on in your life. Final observation. The verse ends with a final warning. This is where we're going this morning. These four observations.

So let's begin. The verse introduces us to two kinds of people. The prudent and the simple. Elsewhere in Proverbs, these fellow travelers are referred to as the wise and the naive. Both are headed down the same path. Both see danger, but they react differently.

And consequently, they experience two very different outcomes. Now in the book of Proverbs, prudent is used interchangeably with wise. So a prudent person is a wise person. The implication here is that a prudent man or woman understands that all of life is connected. That there is a cause and effect relationship between what one does today and what one will experience tomorrow. And consequently, prudent people look as far down the road as possible when making decisions. They stay on the lookout for signs of trouble up ahead.

Today's decisions are informed and influenced by their impact on tomorrow. So drawing on their experience or the experience of others, the wise, the prudent, they anticipate the future and choose accordingly. The second half of the verse we're introduced to a second category of people. The simple, the naive, the foolish. In contrast to the prudent man who takes refuge, the simple, keep going and suffer for it. I refer to them as willfully foolish. They see danger. They see the same danger the prudent man sees, but they are reckless. They think that they're the exception to the rule and they just keep on going in life.

Willfully foolish. They're naive. They live as though life is disconnected. As if there is no connection between today's choices and tomorrow's experiences. When the simple see danger, they don't take refuge, they keep going. Now, they live as if life is disconnected, but they don't necessarily believe that to be the case. If you were to ask them, do you think that there is a connection between the choices you are making today and what you will experience in the future, they would probably in all likelihood answer yes, I do think there's a connection.

It's not that they don't believe there's a connection, the point is they don't live as though there's a connection. Dangerous way to live. There have been a number of serious car accidents out our way, a mile and a half or so from our house. There's a four-way intersection there and they've put stop signs up, they've put red flashing lights up and accidents continue to happen. And now they put rumple strips on the highways going north and south and you have to be about brain dead not to know, okay, you better slow down.

This morning, I leave my house about 730 coming to church. I look south and I barely could see a car coming and although I've got plenty of time, I get out on the highway and I start to accelerate and I get up the road a little bit and here's a four-wheel drive pickup truck right on my bumper. I'm thinking, dude, you are in a hurry to go somewhere. So I could tell he was really getting anxious and I'm doing 55 miles an hour, the speed limit. And solid yellow line, boom, it passes me and I know within an eighth of a mile, there's a red light flashing, there's a stop sign and there's rumple strips and I'm thinking, as fast as that guy's going, I'll bet he's not going to stop.

You know what? He didn't. Never slowed down, got up there, went right through the intersection. That's a dangerous way to live. He got away with that on Sunday morning. He won't get away with that on Monday through Friday.

That is a busy intersection. Some people live their life that way. Reckless, risky. I won't suffer the law of unintended consequences. Life won't catch up to me.

Oh yes. Well, he got away with it. I hope he learns. This verse introduces us to two kinds of people, the prudent and the simple. Listen to these verses from Proverbs. Proverbs 14, 15, the wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit. Proverbs 19, 14, the simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps. Proverbs 28, 26, he who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. That's a good verse to tuck away the next time someone says, well, I just follow my heart. That's my principle. That's my guiding principle in life.

Just follow your heart. He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, the Bible says, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. So that's observation number one. Two kinds of people, the wise or the prudent and the naive or simple or the foolish.

Now observation number two. The primary difference between the prudent and the simple is not what they see, but how they respond to what they see. And what is it that both see? Both see danger, the ultimate reality. Again, a prudent man foresees evil or danger and hides himself, the simple pass on and are punished. When the prudent, the wise, identify behaviors that begin to turn into habits, they do something while they can. The simple keep on going. When the prudent sees a relationship moving in an unhealthy direction, they do something.

The simple keep on going. There are many men and women who have been warned that there is a wide road that leads to destruction, but the simple rush is if they're blindfolded into hell. Both see danger. John Newton in his famous hymn, Amazing Grace, speaks of a truism when he writes, through many dangers, toils, and snares, we have already come. Tis grace hath led us safely thus far and grace will lead us home. The Bible warns us of many dangers. Here's a sampling of warnings in the scriptures. I've jotted down some and I looked at them and there are 12 of them. Don't make anything of the number 12.

It just happened to be when I stopped on this particular point. But here's what the Bible says, a smattering, a sampling, about warnings. Matthew 7 verse 15 to 20, beware of false prophets.

Proverbs warns us, beware of the seductress woman. Beware of the devil's lies. Do not be ignorant of Satan's devices. Beware of the deceitfulness of riches. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12, 21. 1 Corinthians 15, 33, do not be deceived. Evil company corrupts good habits. Proverbs 22, 3, a wise man foresees evil and hides himself. We are warned of the defiling nature of bitterness and unforgiveness in Hebrews chapter 12 and verse 15.

1 Peter 5, verse 8, be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. One of the interesting experiences we had in Zimbabwe is at the end of the training conference, they took us up to a place called Nganana, which is four or five hours north of Bulawaya, on the way to Victoria Falls near Wangai National Park. And we stayed in these tents.

Terry Anders, the son-in-law of Laverne Waugh, married Laverne's daughter Shiona, run this safari business there. So we stayed there two nights and we were told, when you're ready to go back to your tent, somebody with a high-powered rifle will lead you to your tent. And I said, well, I know where the tent is. No, there's danger. There's danger. Don't be a fool. Well, what's the likelihood that I'm going to be attacked by an elephant or a lion?

Well, pretty remote. How risky do you want to live? Well, they took that away from us.

That wasn't an option. If you're going to bed, somebody with a high-powered rifle is going to go ahead of you to protect you. Matthew 7 verse 13, beware of the inviting, alluring wide gate and the broad way that leads to destruction. You know, we like to, most people like to consider themselves wise when in fact they are living foolishly.

I talked with a mother recently whose child was living as foolishly as you can possibly imagine and yet defending themselves. Oh, I can be trusted. You don't need to worry about me.

I'm just, he's so agitated and frustrated by parental authority. Well, if you knew what I knew, you'd say, really? There isn't anything wise about the way you're living. There isn't anything wise about the choices you're making.

And you expect your parent to trust you? No, he thinks he's wise when in fact he is being absolutely foolish as the Bible would describe it. Well, so far we've considered two of the four observations in Proverbs 27 12. We've considered the two kinds of people spoken of in the verse, the prudent or the wise person and the simple, the naive, the foolish person. Secondly, we've considered the ultimate reality of danger that both encounter on the path of life and the choices that they make. Which brings us to observation number three. Two different choices in relationship to the ultimate reality of danger.

And what are they? The prudent, the wise, sees danger and takes refuge. The simple, the foolish, the naive person ignores the warning, ignores the warning signs and the danger and keeps going. The prudent man acts on what he sees. Seeing danger and doing nothing doesn't accomplish anything.

There has got to be a course correction in the face of danger to avoid pain, heartache, regret and loss. Now I know that sounds obvious, but as a preacher I live in a world of nodding heads and note takers who walk out each and every Sunday and more often than not do very little with what they hear. Because it's easy to be a hearer of the word and not a doer. To be warned, to be convicted, to be exhorted, to be challenged by the Word of God, to act in response to some threatening danger and just keep on going. Make no change despite the Word of God coming to bear on your life.

Because the Spirit of God is faithful. He knows you better than any preacher knows you. And the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword and it comes at you, it comes to cut you, it comes to correct you, it comes to change you. And if the Spirit of God is bringing the Word of God to bear on your life to bring change in you, I think I can hold out ten more minutes until the preacher's done.

Get out of here, get me a cup of coffee, blow the cobwebs loose, get on with my life, keep on doing what I'm doing. You say, oh I think you're over exaggerating. Well maybe so, but that might not be too far away from some people's reaction in response to the Word of God as it's being preached. You're probably wondering, why did he read Ephesians chapter 5, 21 verses, and he has not made any reference to that?

Well because I plan to make reference to it right now. I did make reference to the emphasis on our walking, our living, but listen to Ephesians chapter 5 verse 15 to 18. Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.

Why? Because the days are evil, therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery, instead be filled with the Spirit. Do not be foolish, do not be foolish. Too often we are influenced by and take our cue from the culture in which we live, as opposed to being influenced and directed by and conformed to the Word of God that has been revealed. And that is a foolish way to live, because if you handle money the way the culture tells you to handle money, if you conduct your morality the way the culture tells you to conduct your morality, if you deal and act in your marriage the way the culture suggests you should conduct yourself in marriage, you're going to find yourself in a bad way.

We are commanded, we are called to live according to wisdom, not the current trends of culture. So, therefore do not be foolish. And the question is, what does that look like?

What does that look like? Don't be fooled, don't be deceived, don't take your direction from others around you. Too many people, here's the way they, when it comes to making decisions and knowing what the will of God is for their life, well if I can't find a Bible verse that prohibits it, then it must be okay for me to do it. I want to suggest to you that you need to go beyond that criteria. All right, now if the Bible does prohibit it, that should be the end of the story. Don't do it. But simply saying I can't find a verse in the Bible that tells me not to do this, not to say that, not to go here, therefore I'm going to do it, is not a very wise course of action.

Let me explain what I mean. I want to challenge you, when facing those kinds of situations, to ask three questions. Here are three questions to ask to know what is the wise thing to do, because you're being commanded not to be foolish. What is the wise thing to do? Now notice how personal this is.

Here are three questions to ask. Question number one, in light of my past experience, what is the wisest thing for me to do? Not in light of what everybody else is doing, not in light of what is legal, what is permissible, what is morally okay. No, in light of the last time I did that, or thought that, or said that, what is the wise thing for me to do? Why am I saying this? Because you have a unique past. No one has a past just like yours, and your history predisposes you to certain things, certain temptations, financially, relationally, morally, ethically. And what might be okay for someone else, given your history, is not okay for you, if you're going to be a wise person.

That's question number one. In light of my past experience, what is the wise thing for me to do? Question number two, what is the right thing to do in light of my current circumstances? What is the right thing to do in light of my current circumstances? In light of what just happened, in light of where I am emotionally, in light of where I am right now financially? The decision you might be weighing might be fine later on, but right now it's not a good one.

It's not the wisest thing to do. Question number three, what is the wise thing to do in light of my future hopes? When you think of what you want for your marriage in the future, what is the wise thing for you to do right now? In light of where you want to be financially, what is the wisest thing to do right now? In relationship to your children and their future, what is the wisest thing, dad, mom, for you to do right now?

In light of the kind of man or woman you want to marry in the future, what is the wisest thing for you to do right now? You see how personal those questions are? You see how those questions are informed by wisdom? Not simply, I can't find a verse in the Bible that tells me not to do it, therefore I must be okay to do it.

No. What is the wisest thing? Well, the fourth and final observation in our text is a warning. A warning. A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, the simple pass on and are punished.

In the face of danger along life's road, if you do not take refuge but you keep on going, the inevitable will happen to you. You will suffer. You will be punished. You say, well, be punished for what? Suffer for what?

For being oblivious to the obvious. The simple suffer for refusing to act on what they see. They suffer because they live as if there is no connection between the choices of today and the consequences of tomorrow. They overlook the fact that every path has a destination. Decisions have consequences. Now, this proverb is a general principle. It's not universally true all the time, every time. There are exceptions to that.

Some of you sitting here saying, you know what? I have been a greater fool than I care to admit, but I didn't suffer. I wasn't punished. Well, that reality should not cause you to be presumptuous and throw out the word of God. That reality ought to cause you to be thankful for the mercy of God that you didn't get what you deserved.

That man that blew past me and went right through a four-way stop sign this morning. And God has been incredibly kind and merciful to many of us. You know, when life's not going your way and you feel disappointed, frustrated, and the thought starts to come to your mind, and it's easily informed by this culture in which we live, there is an entitlement mentality, God owes me. That thought comes into your mind, remind yourself of what really you are owed. What you deserve. What you deserve is punishment. What you deserve is hellfire. So banish those thoughts, God owes me. God doesn't owe you.

God is a merciful God. Now this is a principle, a general principle, but listen to what I'm trying to get across to you. God often works through principles. Principles make life somewhat predictable. The cause and effect nature of principles create the potential for predictable outcomes. And without principles, life would be completely random. Principles are what enable us to plan with some element of confidence.

And just as you dare not ignore the principle of gravity, you would be wise not to ignore the principle of the path that I'm trying to communicate to you. We observe something pretty remarkable in Zimbabwe. On a Sunday morning, I preached there at the church, and children were running everywhere on the property, on the compound. They have a rather sizable and well-made trampoline. The boys have moved it over, under a huge tree with limbs.

The tree's 60 foot high. There are no sides on this trampoline. And at any given time, there may be eight, ten, twelve children on the trampoline. And children being children, given to see who cannot do the other, they're climbing up in the tree, jumping out of the tree onto the trampoline.

Now how many would say, you know what, that is a prudent man foresees evil, danger, and hides himself. The simple pass on and are punished. I said to Laverne, how long has that trampoline been there? Oh, it's been there a long time. How many children have broken a wrist, broken an arm?

None. Really? I mean, what I describe to you is not an embellishment. Does that sound like an accident looking for a place to happen? Absolutely. Now here's the conclusion I made as I observed that. The angels are on special duty there. All right. They're wearing out the guardian angels because that doesn't sound like a recipe for healthy boys and girls, but it goes on.

That's an exception to the rule, all right. We have a trampoline in our backyard for our grandchildren. There's walls on it, all right. We limit how many are on there. It's not a good place for an adult to be. I'm going to tell you what, the kids want me to get on there, and if you get out of rhythm with whoever's jumping there, it will jam your back and you will be one hurting puppy.

So I look for excuses to get out of that when the children want me to be on there with them. We're talking about the principle of the path. The principle of the path, like all principles, is universal. It is not a respecter of persons. It doesn't matter whether you're rich or poor, young or old, famous or unknown.

Nobody is immune to this principle, and in some ways it levels the playing field. I was talking to someone about the danger of smoking. I said, you know, there's a reason why they put a warning label on a pack of cigarettes may cause cancer. Well, yeah, I know, but my grandmother smoked for 40 years and she's 90 years old.

She never got cancer. I said, are you going to tell your children that that's a good plan for healthy living? No. So that's an exception to the rule, right? It's, again, a general principle.

Don't buy into the lie because you can point to an exception that you're going to be the exception. This is the principle of the path. You're on a certain path.

It's going to lead you to a destination. I have seven minutes to bring this message to a conclusion, and as I do, I have four questions. The first three, I'm sorry, the first third of the book of Proverbs pictures wisdom, and there's this picture of wisdom standing in the streets crying out for the wise and godly man to pursue her. Question number one, are you a wise person? Are you a prudent person or are you a simple, naive, foolish person? Now we're inclined to think the best of ourselves, just like that teenager I was telling you was living absolutely foolishly and thought he was walking in the path of wisdom.

So maybe a better question is to ask the person who knows you the best, maybe your spouse, maybe your friend. You know, I don't want to be deceived, would you? I'm gonna ask you a question. Do you think, knowing me, knowing how I live my life, knowing how I live this past week, am I walking in a path of wisdom or am I naive?

Am I foolish? That's a very good question to consider. Well hear the wisdom of God this morning, the prudent or the wise. He sees danger, he takes refuge, but the simple, the foolish keep going and suffer for it. Question number two, because none of us have arrived, because we're all a work in progress, what specific application has the Spirit prompted you to act upon this morning? What are you gonna leave this morning with and say, you know what, that message was for me, God has something for me in that message, and the Spirit of God is faithful.

He'll come to you and he will put your, his finger on the point of application for your life. And the question is, in how you respond is going to reveal whether you're a wise person or whether you're a foolish person, because the foolish person, he sees danger and he just keeps on going with his life, no change, no mid course correction. So what application are you gonna make from the sermon you're hearing this morning? Question number three, what in you causes you to resist this common sense?

You could read what I've said, take out the verses of Scripture, you could have read in a self-help book what I've been trying to communicate to you this morning, right? So the question is, what in you causes you to resist this common sense? Next question, what causes a man or woman on the broad way that leads to destruction? Hellfire, eternal separation from God and all things good, what causes a person to ignore the warning to flee the wrath to come?

You see this isn't about common sense, is it? What causes a man to resist this common sense? What causes a man to refuse to flee the wrath that is to come? The condition of your heart, all men apart from Christ are foolish, hear me, all men outside of Christ are foolish, they have their understanding darkened, they're blind to their true condition, listen to Titus chapter 3 verse 3, Paul's writing to young Titus and he's reminding him of what he used to be, this is a description of how we used to be apart from Christ, for we ourselves were also once what?

Foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, that's the way we used to be, men outside of Christ are foolish, they're not endowed with wisdom. So this isn't a matter of, I've got two choices here for you, are you going to choose whiz the path of wisdom or are you going to choose the path of foolishness? That's really not the question, here's the question, choosing the right path begins with submission, not information. Submission to the one who knows where each path leads as well as where each path doesn't lead, submission to the one who knows what's best for you better than you know what's best for you.

It's tempting to think that information alone is enough, but generally speaking information is not the problem, independence is the problem, human autonomy is the problem, resistance to God's authority is the problem, I want to live my life the way I want to live my life, no guardrails, I want to do what I want to do, that's foolishness is what that is. Independence is our problem and the solution for independence is the dreaded S word, submission, submission. Some of you have, well I know one particular man who will go unnamed, I said my friend if you were a cat you've burned through about five lives already, just living recklessly, carelessly, almost welcomes danger, walks into danger intentionally because he's so skilled he knows how to navigate, oh really?

That's a dangerous game to play isn't it? Now the bottom line this morning is surrender, it's submission and only God can do that in you, only God can give you a new nature, your old nature is foolish, your old nature is inclined to ignoring danger, hearing what this preacher is saying and dismissing it, but if God's given you a new nature then you're hearing the truth of what I'm saying, you're saying you know what that resonates, that's true, I need to heed that, others around me need to heed this, I'm gonna take this message with me and I'm gonna communicate it to somebody in my own way. So the bottom line this morning is are you submitted, are you surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ? You say well I surrendered 32 years ago at the altar, no wait a minute here, the Christian life is a life of surrender, it's a life of submission, it's surrendering each day, right? There are many forks in the road on the path of life, read Pilgrim's Progress, read about the dangers that Bunyan was trying to convey, life is littered with all kinds of potholes and obstacles and landmines and the God who is able to come to a man who's on the broad way that leads to destruction and pluck him off the broad way and put him on the narrow way is the God who can keep you on the narrow way all the way to glory. Even as a saved man or woman we're not able to make our own way, left to ourselves we'd be lost out in the wilderness somewhere.

So let's not be naive, this world is no friend of grace and it is getting worse and worse. There's some hard decisions that some people are going to need to make. You know how easy it is, I'm not bashing Facebook okay, my wife's on Facebook, I've learned things on Facebook, I don't have time for Facebook, that's just who I am, my life is busy, but not because I necessarily have observed this with my wife, she's not on Facebook very much, she's on it a little bit, gets off, she finds this out, finds this out, tells me this, tells me that, oh that's great, didn't know that, but Facebook can become an addiction. You get on Facebook and you intend to spend 10 minutes and two hours have gone by and you're still there.

Is that a wise use of your time? And it's not just that, there's so many other things. We want to control our life, we want to be able to control those things that are provocations and you can't do that, you can't live in isolation.

So there's constant things coming at you. Daily surrender and submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ, that's the key to the Christian life. Too many people, I repented, I repented, let me think, when was that, 1964? You've never, you haven't repented of anything since?

That's where they act? No, we are, we are repenting repenters. Our life is characterized by repentance. Our life is characterized by ongoing surrender and submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Well, let us pray. Father, thank you for your word, thank you for its simplicity, thank you for its clarity, thank you for its power to come to us and convict us, rebuke us, instruct us in the ways of righteousness. Spirit of God, take your word and cause fruit to be born from what people have heard this morning. Change us and grow us and make us wise men and women, I pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-31 15:05:17 / 2023-05-31 15:19:06 / 14

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