Proverbs 4:14-15

Proverbs 4:14-15 "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."
Church East Aurora NY
These next two verses tell us that there’s more to success than getting virtue.  There’s more to success than getting wisdom.  Wisdom is the principal thing but it isn’t the only thing to consider when preparing for life.  Not only would Rehoboam need to get wisdom if he wanted to be successful, but he would also need to avoid getting wickedness.
 
It is quite possible to entertain both virtue and vice at the same time.  It is quite possible to pursue wisdom while entertaining wickedness at the same time.  This consumption of both good and bad will not produce spiritual success.  For example, one can consume both nutritious foods and non-nutritious foods at the same time.  Western New Yorkers do this on a regular basis when we order our famous chicken wings, which always come with a little bag of celery and carrots.  Eating a dozen chicken wings and a few small sticks of carrots on a regular basis will not lead to dietary success.  The nutritious vegetables don’t make the fried chicken wings nutritious.  We can consume both healthy and unhealthy food at the same time but the healthy food doesn’t make the unhealthy food safe for our consumption.  Eventually, the fatty food will have its negative effect on the body.

Again, it is quite possible to entertain both virtue and vice at the same time.  It is possible to walk the way of wisdom while contemplating the way of wickedness.  A married man can perform both good and bad at the same time.  A married man can spend time with his wife in sincere conversation, get her flowers on a regular basis and treat her kindly while committing adultery with another woman.  Adultery doesn’t make a man’s kindness unkind but more importantly, a man’s kindness surely doesn’t make his adultery acceptable.  Virtue in a marriage doesn’t negate infidelity in a marriage.  It is possible to entertain both virtue and vice in a marriage but eventually, adultery will have its destructive effect on the marriage.

First and foremost, Rehoboam needed to get wisdom if he were to succeed as a man and as a king.  He needed to follow his father’s instruction and stay on the way of wisdom that his father set out for him.  Secondly and just as important, he needed to have the ability to AVOID the way of the wicked altogether.  He could not afford to flirt with the way of the wicked.  Solomon didn’t tell his son to resist the way of wicked men – he told him to “avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”  Sin should not be contemplated; it should be avoided.  Evil should not be considered; it should be avoided.  We can’t afford to flirt with wickedness – we must avoid it altogether.  Solomon wanted his son to avoid wickedness - he didn’t want his son to give it a look or a thought.  

Sin is incredibly enticing.  Given enough time and attention, it will win.  Wickedness is seductive.  Given enough thought and consideration, it will prevail.  Flirting with iniquity is truly like playing with fire.  Seeing evil as an option is like playing with a venomous snake without any professional training or equipment.  Eventually, sin will sink its sharp poisonous fangs into your soul and do great damage.  It is the fundamental nature of evil to get and keep our attention just long enough to bite us while we’ll vulnerable.

Human history tells the story of countless holy men and women succumbing to immorality simply because they entertained evil for but a moment.  To succeed in this life, we need more than virtue.  To succeed in the Christian life, we need to aggressively avoid wickedness while pursuing wisdom.  Flirting with worldly pleasure will eventually result in getting into bed with worldly pleasure.  No amount of virtue will save us from the damaging results of embracing worldly pleasure.  Sin always wins when we initiate the encounter.  Evil always gets a sale when we open the door and hear its tempting pitch.  If we’re willing to dance with wickedness, it won’t matter how many times we’ve been to church or how many times we’ve read the Bible.  Wickedness always wins if we give it an audience for our hearts are “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).  The wicked woman of Proverbs 7 didn’t slay weak men – she slew strong men” according to verse 26.  She did that because those strong men weren’t strong enough to avoid her altogether.  Solomon saw men approach her at night instead of avoiding her altogether.  Once this wicked woman had a man’s attention, she would easily win his heart by winning his eyes and ears through beauty and seduction.

It is possible to consume both virtue and vice at the same time.  It is possible to entertain both wisdom and wickedness at the same time.  Once we open our hearts to wickedness on any level, all of the wisdom we’ve accrued will be in jeopardy.  Once we open our hearts to evil on the smallest of levels, all of the virtue we’ve obtained will be in danger.  Judas Iscariot opened his heart to evil when he asked the enemies of Christ, “What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?” (Matthew 26:15).  All of the virtue that Judas had obtained following Jesus would soon be lost because he gave evil the opportunity to impress him.  All of the wisdom that Judas had gleaned under Christ’s leadership would soon be lost because he opened his heart to wicked men.  He failed to AVOID evil altogether.

If we let our eyes gaze on evil long enough, it will look enticing.  If we let our ears listen to evil long enough, it will sound enticing.  Once evil becomes enticing (and it will in short time), it will be near impossible to resist.  Once we partake of it, it will eventually sting us.  Such is the nature of alcohol as Solomon described it in Proverbs 23:32, “AT the LAST it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”  This is exactly why this wise man preceded that observation by saying, LOOK NOT thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright” in verse 31.  It wasn’t his counsel to resist the “DRINK NOT” – it was his counsel to “LOOK NOT” so as to avoid the enticing urge to drink it.  Avoid evil and you’ll avoid the temptation to partake of it.

Son of God, “a LITTLE leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).  Therefore, avoid leaven – AVOID evil.  Don’t play with it.  Don’t entertain it.  Don’t underestimate it.  Daughter of God, “be not deceived: evil communications CORRUPT good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).  It is most possible to have good manners and evil communications at the same time but eventually, evil will corrupt and pollute the good.  Therefore, AVOID evil communications.  Don’t flirt with evil.  Don’t underestimate it.

Get wisdom and with all thy getting, get the counsel to avoid wickedness altogether.
Much good can be undone by a little wrong.  

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