|Vol. 13 No. 1 January 2011||
The Christian is encouraged by the precious and exceeding great promises found in God’s Word. For example, Jesus said, “that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life” (John 3:15). As Christians, if we walk in the light of God’s Word, we have the promise of continual cleansing from sin by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7). We might say that we have blessed assurance.
While we rightly believe in the security of the believer, at the same time, we understand that many of God’s promises (including salvation) are conditional. To reap the benefit, we must comply with God’s conditions to become Christians; man must comply with God’s terms of pardon. To Christians John wrote, “whosoever is begotten of God [becomes a Christian] doeth no sin [does not continue in the practice of sin] because his seed [the Word of God] abideth in him...” (1 John 3:9; Luke 8:11). Remember what John had taught in 1:7 about our responsibility of walking in the light. Peter told those of a like precious faith that “if these things [Christian graces, 2 Peter 1:5-7] are yours and abound they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful ...for ye do these things, ye shall never stumble” (2 Peter 1:8-10). Obviously, the opposite is true too. Christians are secure in their salvation when the Word of God abides in us and when we do the things the Lord has commanded. Though “God gave unto us eternal life” and “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus,” man must initially meet the requirements, and once a Christian, continue in faithful obedience to be saved eternally (1 John 5:11; Romans 6:23).
The writer of Hebrews warned Jewish Christians to give heed to the teachings they had heard “lest haply we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1). He illustrates this truth with a story from the Old Testament where the disobedient were not able to enter into the promised land because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:18-19). In 3:12, the plain and simple warning is “take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God.”
If it is impossible for the child of God to so sin as to be lost eternally, why then the warnings against such? It is evident that God wants man to be saved (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:3-4) It is equally certain that God is not going to allow believers to be tempted beyond their ability to resist (1 Corinthians 10:13). Yet, at the same time, God warns us of the possibility of falling away (1 Corinthians 10:12). It is possible for a Christian to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). For example, Demas, who had been a fellow-worker with Paul, forsook him later, “having loved this present world” (Philemon 2:4; 2 Timothy 4:10). Peter clearly describes the possibility of apostasy (Read 2 Peter 2). This one passage alone defeats the doctrine John Calvin popularized of “once saved, always saved.” Let us hold fast the faithful Word that we might be saved eternally.
One custom that is popular for many people is making New Year’s resolutions. This means the person decides on goals for the year. The person may make promises of certain actions or modes of thinking for the year. These resolutions are usually directed toward things that the person believes he/she fell short in during the past year. However, these may be things the person does not think he/she failed in but simply needs to grow in.
Proverbs 3 gives us some things that each of us should desire to grow in. Some individuals may have fallen very short in putting these to work in their lives this past year. Others may simply want to continue to grow in their spiritual lives, and these will certainly help in that endeavor.
Resolution #1 – Do not forget God’s law and keep His commandments (v. 1). The Hebrew words indicate that you do not want to mislay or give a lack of attention to God’s Word, and you need to guard and protect His commandments.
Resolution #2 – Keep mercy and truth near you (v. 3-4). You should have kindness and mercy in your dealings with others. The Hebrew word for “truth” means “stability, sure, trustworthiness.” Others should know they can depend on you.
Resolution #3 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart (v. 5-6). The Hebrew word for “trust” also means secure, confidence or bold. You should be confident and bold in your following of God.
Resolution #4 – Do not be wise in your own eyes (v. 7). Be humble and submit to God’s commands.
Resolution #5 – Fear the Lord (v. 7). This means you should reverence God. A proper reverence leads to a proper obedience. Then, you will not be afraid of God when judgment comes to the sinner and the evil person (v. 24-25).
Resolution #6 – Honor the Lord with your substance (v. 9-10). You should give God the first fruits of everything.
Resolution #7 – Do not despise the Lord’s chastening (v. 11-12). Accept God’s correction and discipline. This means if you choose to sin and bad consequences come, you do not complain and blame God for bad things happening.
Resolution #8 – Find wisdom and understanding (v. 13). The Hebrew word for “find” gives indication of catching or acquiring. You cannot sit and wait for wisdom and understanding to come to you. You must study God’s Word, and then, apply it to your life.
Resolution #9 – Keep sound wisdom and discretion (v. 21). Sound wisdom is substantiated, abiding success, sound knowledge. This means that you should continue to practice those things that are proven to bring true happiness in life. God has given us those things in His Word. He has given us examples throughout the Scriptures of those who used sound wisdom. He gave us examples of those who did not. Discretion is a plan. You should have a proper plan for your life. Such a plan will only be successful if it includes following God’s Word.
Resolution #10 – Do not withhold good from those who deserve it (v. 27-28).
Resolution #11 – Devise not evil against your neighbor (v. 29-30). The Hebrew word “neighbor” here can mean any associate or relative. You do not plot to do evil against anyone.
Resolution #12 – Do not envy the oppressor (v. 31). Oppressor here is the violent or wrong man. These people may have great earthly riches, but you do not envy their belongings. This will only lead you to become a violent or wrong person.
Others might find different resolutions in this chapter or combine some that I made with separate resolutions. However you organize or number the resolutions, though, God tells us the result of putting these to work in our lives. In verses 33-35, He tells us that these will cause the just to be blessed, the lowly to receive grace and the wise to inherit glory.
Study your Bible. Decide to grow in your spiritual life, and if any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.