There’s a time when the Lord gives us what we want: freedom, autonomy, independence, and to have no authority over our lives but ourselves. That’s right. God gives us over to our selfish, carnal attitudes and allows us to experience the consequences of our sins. It’s like He says, “Ok, you want to go your own way? Have at it. I’ll be here when you come to your senses.” It’s the story of the prodigal son played out in our lives in real time.
This is called the curse of God’s abandonment. It’s when He removes His protecting grace from our lives and our nation and let’s us see how we like life without Him. And the results are catastrophic.
Samson, after having his hair cut by Delilah, woke up to confront his enemies still believing he had the same strength as before because his God was with him. But that was not the case. He said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him (Judges 16:20). Samson was experiencing the abandonment of God.
God Gave Them Up
In Romans 1 we see three examples of this very act of God’s abandonment:
Therefore God also gave them up – Romans 1:24.
For this reason God gave them up – Romans 1:26.
God gave them over – Romans 1:28.
But who are the “them” in these verses? The lost? The unregenerate? Those nations that reject truth and justice? Yes. But if you will study these verses closely you will find the object of God’s curse of abandonment is also the church. It includes His wayward believers. It includes you and me.
Does this seem strange to you? Maybe hard to believe? Then I suggest you keep listening and find out the truth for yourself. And remember, “judgment begins at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Are you ready?
The following is a study on the Curse of the Abandonment of God.
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God never wastes an experience in our life, good or bad. When we sin, for example, God uses our failure as a ministry to help others struggling with the same sin. He allows us to share the times we fell flat on our face to encourage others who are doing the same. It seems that’s what Jesus was teaching Peter.
In the upper room, during the last supper, Jesus told Peter He was praying for him. But His prayer was not to remove the temptation and inevitable fall from Peter. No, His prayer was that when Peter fell and suffered the consequences of that fall, that once he repented and returned to Jesus, he was to strengthen his brothers by that experience. Consider the following:
Luke 22:31-32 – And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
Jesus didn’t tell Peter he would deliver him from the temptation, the sifting. He promised Peter that after he fell and recovered and returned to his faith, Jesus would use that experience to encourage and strengthen others who were struggling in the same way. That’s why, in John 21, we see Jesus restoring Peter by saying, “Feed My lambs” (John 21:15). Even after Peter’s epic denial of Jesus, his ministry was not finished. In fact, it was just beginning. And so it is with us.
Does this thought encourage you? It does me. If you want to learn more about your usefulness after your failure, then keep listening.
The following is a study on John 21:15-23.
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In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus equates anger with murder (Matt. 5:21-22), in much the same way He equates lust with adultery (Matt. 5:27-28). Later, John adds the following:
1 John 3:11-15 – For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love (agapaō) one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his (Cain) works were evil and his brother’s (Able) righteous. Do not marvel (wonder, be surprised, astonished), my brethren (fellow believers), if the world (kósmos) hates (to detest, an active ill will in words and conduct, a persecution spirit) you. We know (eidō) that we have passed from death to life, (how) because we love (agapaō) the brethren. He who does not love (agapaō) his (personal) brother (fellow believers) abides (rest, make their home) in death. Whoever hates (to detest, an active ill will in words and conduct, a persecution spirit) his (personal) brother (fellow believer) is a murderer, and you know (eidō) that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
Anger + Hatred = Murder
John also equates anger and hatred with murder. And he states that “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” This is a profoundly important point. Which raises a couple of questions:
Have you been angry with a fellow Christian?
What was the cause of your anger? Was it the holiness of God? Or some personal preference about which you felt slighted?
Are you still angry with that person? And if so, why?
Did you know that, according to the Scriptures, you are guilty of murder? Why? Because the one you hate and murmur about was created in the image of God. And to hate someone created by God, who is also made in the image of your God, is to hate God. You cannot love the Creator and hate His creation.
The Scriptures call this murder. Are you confused? Do you think hatred and murder are two different things with two different penalties? Do you want to know what the Scriptures say about anger and murder? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on Matthew 5:21-22.
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We have previously talked about the importance of understanding our responsibility regarding the if / then passages in Scripture. In these, the promise of God (then) is contingent upon some completed action on our part (if). One always precedes the other. One is always contingent upon the other. When the if is satisfied, the promised then is realized. But the opposite is also true. If there is no if, there will be no then. If no condition is met, there will be no fulfillment of the promise. It’s Contract Law, 101.
For example, when Peter preached his powerful sermon on the day of Pentecost that ushered in the birth of the church, he closed his message with an if / then promise. Let’s look at this in context. First, Peter concludes his message with a statement about Jesus and their guilt in rejecting and crucifying Him.
Acts 2:36 – “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified (now it’s personal), both Lord and Christ.”
Then, under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, the people cry out for an answer. They long and seek for salvation, some deliverance from the guilt of their sin.
Acts 2:37 – Now when they heard this (the words Peter just spoke), they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter answers their question with an if / then promise regarding repentance and salvation. They must do something (if) to receive salvation and the forgiveness of their sins (then). If they fail to do what is required of them (if – repentance), then salvation does not follow (then). Watch how this plays out.
Acts 2:38 – Then Peter said to them, “Repent (if – the condition they must meet), and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (as an outward sign of their repentance and submission to Christ); and (then – the promise of salvation, the result of meeting the condition of repentance) you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Remember, the Holy Spirit is our proof of salvation. Ephesians 1 says we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance” in Him (Eph. 1:13-14). Again, no Holy Spirit, no regeneration, no changed nature— no salvation. But you already know this.
Turn at My Rebuke
Yet even after salvation, we find the same if / then conditions and promises still apply in our lives today. This is especially true regarding the sins we commit as a believer and our refusal to repent of them and give them up in exchange for a deeper relationship with the Lord. Look at your own life. You and I have areas right now that we struggle with and refuse to submit to Him. But you also already know this. The end result of this inaction on our part is a grieving of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and a noticeable break in our fellowship with the Lord. Can you relate? Ever been there?
We even see this scenario played out for us in the first chapter of Proverbs. In this chapter, the young man (representing you and me) is warned by his father and mother not to forsake what he has been taught and to not consent when sinners entice him to sin (Prov. 1:10). The Lord then spends the next nine verses detailing the types of pressure each of us will face when we are tempted to sin. There’s peer pressure, greed, anger, violence, acceptance, excitement— it’s all there. Read it for yourself.
By the time we get to Proverbs 1:20, things change a bit in the text. Now we have wisdom, the personified wisdom of God, calling out to this young man with the message of repentance. In fact, we see wisdom calling out to anyone who will listen. Wisdom calls out in the “open squares,” in the “chief concourses” and “at the opening of the gates in the city” (Prov. 1:20-21). Wisdom is calling to everyone. To those who are lost, it’s a message of repentance unto salvation. To those, like the young man and you and me, it’s a message of repentance unto fellowship and a restoration of our intimate relationship with our Lord.
Wisdom’s message begins with a rebuke. It’s like incredulously asking, “Just how stupid are you?”
Proverbs 1:22 – “How long, you simple ones (foolish ones, naive ones, stupid ones, moronic ones), will you love simplicity (what is foolish, stupid, moronic)? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.”
Wisdom asks each of us the same question: “How long, you foolish, moronic, stupid ones, will you love your stupidity? How long, you fools, will you be enamored in your folly?”
Just like those who heard Peter’s charge in Acts 2:36, we also ask the same question: “What must we do?” The answer is simple. But it’s an if / then answer. It requires something of us in order to receive something from the Lord.
Proverbs 1:23 – “Turn (if – the condition that must be met) at my rebuke; Surely (then – the results of meeting the condition) I will pour out my spirit (Holy Spirit) on you; (then) I will make my words known (yada) to you.”
The promise is that God would pour (to gush forth, to flow) out the Holy Spirit on those who turned (turn back, returned) and repented at the rebuke (correction, reproof, chastisement) of wisdom. And, as if it couldn’t get any better, He also promised to make His words known (yada) to those who repented and turned back to Him. The word “known” is yada in the Hebrew and means to know, or be known, in a loving, intimate, experiential way. The promise offered by the Lord is for Him to pour Himself out on us in the Person of the Holy Spirit and make His words become something we love because we have experienced them ourselves, first-hand, and have an intimate, loving relationship with Him. Does it get any better than this? Not for me.
But don’t get too excited. This wonderful promise is conditional. It’s the then side of the if / then equation. There is something that is required in order to receive the promise from God. Something each of us must do.
We must repent. We must turn at the rebuke or correction and chastisement of the Lord.
It means to go back to where we were with Him before we jumped ship to blindly go after the trinkets and toys this world offers. It means to embrace the eternal and reject the temporal, no matter how good the temporal may make us feel in the short run. It means placing ourselves back under the Lordship of Christ as the Sovereign One. We must repent of the selfishness of demanding our Christian life being about us, and not about Him. And we must vow to never view Christ as a genie in a bottle, always at our beck and call, whose sole purpose, according to us, is to make all our dreams come true.
Turn. Return. Go back. Repent.
But What If I Don’t?
I mean, what if I refuse to return to Him? What if I’m ok where I’m at and don’t want to go through the pain and hard times that come with repentance? What if I say, no?
I’ll close by letting you read what the Lord says about people who stubbornly refuse His rebuke. These are sobering words. Take them to heart. Because they are a warning from Him. Another if / then promise.
Proverbs 1:24-27 – “Because (if – the condition we have met) I have called and you refused, (if – the condition) I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because (if) you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, (then – the result of our actions) I also will laugh at your calamity; (then) I will mock when your terror comes, (to what extent) when your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.”
But it gets worse. What happens when we reject the wisdom of the Lord and inevitably begin to experience all the “terror” and “destruction” that “comes like a whirlwind” (Prov. 1:26-27)? What happens when the Lord gives us what we want and allows us to experience the consequences of our own sin (Rom.1:24-28)? What happens when we’ve had enough of God’s chastisement, throw up our hands in defeat, and begrudgingly come to Him on His terms? What happens then? How will He receive us?
Read this carefully. These are sobering words.
Proverbs 1:28-30 – “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. (why) Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke.”
These are some of the most frightening words in all of Scripture. They indicate there may come a time when our constant rejection of the Lord will dry up His grace. A time when heaven is quiet and, no matter how hard we try, we can’t find the grace from Him we took for granted for so long. The time may come, according to this if / then promise, when God allows us to experience the consequence of our sins and may give us exactly what we have asked for, what we have demanded— deliverance from Him.
Pray that day never comes.
And while you still can, turn at His rebuke and allow Him to “pour out my spirit on you” and “make my words known to you” (Prov. 1:23). Because when He does what He has promised in the verse, you will begin to experience heaven on earth.
Return to Him today.
My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
In the church today, especially in the West, we peddle the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the “good news” as it is known, yet conspicuously fail to tell our young, trusting converts the “bad news” that comes along with the total package of salvation. And that “bad news” is that right now, as a believer, as a Christian, as one redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, you have an enemy. And your enemy is powerful, numerous, well-equipped and an experienced, battle-hardened veteran ready to fulfill his evil mission for your life— to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy” you and all Christ has done for you (John 10:10).
And our enemy, Satan, works tirelessly, 24/7 to accomplish his task.
In fact, the neglected truth of the Gospel is that once someone passes from death to life, once they’ve been “delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13), a huge bulls eye is placed on their chest inviting and directing all the evil in the world to come and test this new Man of God.
But this reality should be of no surprise for someone who knows the Scriptures. For they promise us that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Tim . 3:12) and that we shouldn’t be surprised by or “think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Why? Because Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18) and because “I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Jesus then continues by assuring us we will face persecution and suffering because “if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20) and when these times of testing come, we should “rejoice and be exceedingly glad” (Matt. 5:12).
Which raises a few questions for us. Did the world persecute Jesus? I think the answer is obvious. They persecuted Him to His death. Did the world try to entice Him to sin, to falter, to fail in His mission to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 7:27)? Absolutely. And the world enticed Him to fall continually, daily in fact, from His temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11) to the angry shouts at the cross to save Himself “if You are the King of the Jews” (Luke 23:37).
Jesus was enticed to sin so much that the book of Hebrews states, without question, that He was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). In other words, whatever you and I face regarding temptation— the allurement, the enticement, the almost irritable draw to sin and lust and pride— Jesus was also tempted in the very same way, and much more so, yet without sin. And He, as One who walked in our shoes and yet did not consent to sin, He is our perfect example of the life we are to live in Him.
The Inevitability of Temptation
In Proverbs 1:10 we see the loving father again giving his naive, impressionable son sage advice on how to live righteously in the fallen world that is the home of our enemy. His advice shows the inevitability of temptation and the power behind that temptation as nothing more than the cruel reality of our life in this world we are not part of any longer (John 17:16). But it also shows us the way through that temptation and the choices we must make to live above the fold of sin.
Proverbs 1:10 – My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
The advice begins with the personal words we see repeated over and over again in the Proverbs: “My son.” These words are personal, loving, coming from a father who desperately wants to mature his young son before he faces the temptations and enticement that come to all men living in this world. The father knows what his son will soon face, the father has been where the son is soon to walk, and the father all the more implores the son he loves to listen to the “instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother” (Prov. 1:8).
And the message of the father is simple and direct. “If sinners entice you, do not consent.” The message begins with the word, if. Unlike its usage today, this if does not primarily mean a conditional phrase or clause, something that might happen someday, to somebody, but probably not today and certainly not to you. It means “since or because” or “when or whenever” and implies a condition that is capable and expected of being fulfilled regularly, at any moment. And so it is with the temptation to sin.
For the Believer, temptation is a fact of life we face every day. There’s no escape from temptation and no way around it. Temptation should be something we expect and embrace, not something we’re to fear. Why? For even our Lord was tempted and overcame by the Word of God. And so can we.
But who is doing the enticing, the tempting? The word is sinners. And this doesn’t mean just anyone who occasionally sins. No, this word refers to those who are “habitual sinners, those abandoned to sin, and especially those in this context who make robbery and bloodshed a profession.” It describes those who, by their very actions, are under the wrath and judgment of God.
But don’t be mislead. Sinners are not just creepy old men lurking under a street light, living in the shadows, looking for someone to draw away and entice into sin. They’re not always the nameless and faceless people behind porn websites that entice you with alluring pictures to simply “click” and enter into their fantasy world of sin. And they’re not always the strangers, the one you really don’t know, the ones who live in anonymity, that are your biggest threat.
No, your greatest temptation, your greatest enticement to sin can come from the very members of your own family, those in your own home, or from your closest friend. Why? Because misery and sin love company and blood is not always thicker than water, as they say. And even those closest to you can try to lead you astray. Just ask Abel about his brother Cain. Or ask Joseph about his jealous brothers and what great harm they did to him, and their father, simply because of their pride. Then there’s Job and his faithless wife and friends who seemed committed to the task of trying to destroy Job’s faith and trust in God. And there’s even the family of Jesus who mocked Him by claiming “He is out of His mind” (Mark 3:21) when He spoke the words of God to them and others. Remember?
None of this should surprise us. After all, Jesus promised a division among friends and family solely because of faith in Him. He even went so far as to say:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. (how) For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt. 10:34-36).
But as bad as all this sounds, our greatest enticement to sin will often come from within, from where we least expect it, from our own flesh.
Enticement Comes from Within
James reveals to us that often our enticement to sin comes from within and speaks about how we are to respond when we find ourselves suffering in the midst of a great trial or a seemingly irresistible urge to sin. How do we overcome in the middle of the battle? And how did we get into this no-man’s land anyway? Plus, whose fault is it anyway? Where does the blame lie?
First, note the blessing promised the man who is tried in the fire of temptation and enticement, yet stands strong and is found approved, or whose actions are found pleasing and acceptable to the Lord.
James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who (what) endures (or, remains under, to persevere, sustain, to bear bravely and calmly) temptation (or, a trial of one’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, to put to the test); for when he has been approved (or, tried and found pleasing and acceptable, to be tried as metals by fire and be purified), he will receive (what) the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Then, notice how our natural tendency is to point the finger and find someone to blame for our trials, someone other than ourselves. And unfortunately, that Someone is often God. But God never tempts us to sin and God is never the source of our sinful desires or lusts. Never.
James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; (why) for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor (what) does He Himself tempt anyone.
But someone is tempting us to sin, we reason. It’s got to be someone’s fault when we find ourselves in the midst of a great trial. Somebody has to take the blame. Someone did this to us. And we demand to know just who that someone is.
But the answer to our quest for blame is quite revealing.
James 1:14 – But each one (you and me) is tempted (how) when he is drawn away by (what) his own desires and enticed (or, to bait, entrap, beguile, deceive).
So our temptation also comes from within, from the very core of our fallen nature. And it’s our flesh, our pride, the insistent demanding of our own rights, our rebellion, our insolence, and our lusts and desires that can plunge us into the darkness and despair of sin. And just how great is that darkness?
James 1:15 – Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
The Scriptures reveal that desire naturally leads to sin and sin will ultimately bring forth death. And you know, it really doesn’t get much darker than this.
But since we often think these things will never happen to us, James adds the following admonition:
James 1:16 – Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
That’s right, do not be deceived into believing these verses don’t apply to you and your situation. Or that maybe you’re too spiritual, too mature to fall for some inward temptation. After all, you’d never be foolish enough to be “drawn away by your own desires and enticed” (James 1:14). No, that may happen to some, but never to you. Right?
Remember, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” (James 1:16).
Finally, the Proverbs state that sinners will entice us and, when that most certainly happens, we are told not to consent. But what does entice mean? And why did the Lord choose that particular word to describe temptation?
The word translated entice means “to be spacious or wide open, to deceive, to persuade, to seduce.” The word describes those who are simple, naive, gullible and are overcome easily into sin. It’s the same word used to describe Delilah as she enticed Samson to explain the source of his great strength (Judges 16:5). Proverbs 16:29 tells how a “violent man entices his neighbor” in order to lead “him in a way that is not good.” The word speaks of persuasion and deception in order to get one’s own way among those who are naive and easily manipulated.
And that persuasion and deception can come from others, on the outside, as well as from ourselves, on the inside. As the comic character Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” So it is also true with being enticed to sin.
So, My Son, the father implores, if and most certainly when sinners entice and persuade you into sin, your only hope and deliverance in the midst of the temptation is to commit beforehand to do not consent.
Do Not Consent
But how is that done? What does the father mean when he says to his son, “Do not consent”? And what does that look like in real life, in practical terms?
That’s something we will look at in the next chapter.
1. What things do you struggle with in your spiritual life? What sins or carnal mindsets always seem to get the best of you? Are there some areas in your life you have tried to change and failed so many times that you’ve given up and quit trying to change altogether?
2. Can you see any common thread in your struggles with temptation? Is there any particular area in your life that you are more susceptible to sin than in others?
3. Do you believe it’s possible to have victory over your sin? Or have you resigned yourself to the roller-coaster life of sin, ask for forgiveness, and then sin again?
4. And if you believe victory over your sin is possible, are you experiencing that victory today? If so, what is that like? How did that happen? Can you share the steps you’ve taken to achieve your victory? But if you haven’t experienced victory over your sin, do you know why? Is the failure with Him? Or is the failure with you?
5. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process? What was it yesterday? Are you growing in the wisdom of God? And, if not, why?
Next Step Challenge
The Hebrew word for “entice” is pathah, and means “to deceive, to persuade, to be gullible. It describes a person who is simple and naive and is, therefore, easy prey to sin.” Take your Bible and look up the various uses of the word in the Old Testament and see if you can grasp a deeper understanding of what the Lord is saying to us in the Proverbs by seeing how the word is used elsewhere in His Word. For example:
2 Samuel 3:25
1 Kings 22:20-21
Proverbs 24:28; 25:15
What do the various uses of pathah show regarding its use in Proverbs 1:10? What does “entice” really mean? How has your understanding and appreciation of the word changed?
Do you have a deeper desire to study the Word of God word by word? Do you see the importance of every word given us by our Lord? Has this compelled you to become a student of His Word, in a much deeper sense, in order to “present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15)?
And if so, what are you prepared to do about it?