“Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you” (Pr.1:23).
A very dear person to me was reading one of my sermons. Suddenly, she turned to me and made the following remark: “Don’t you think that the expression: ‘If, therefore, you see someone who is unable to understand the Word of God you can conclude that he or she has not yet accepted the rebukes of the Lord’ “is too absolute and too strict and it is somehow accusing or despising those who do not understand the Word of God? Are not there different levels of comprehension of His Word?”
She was referring to my comment on the verse: “Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you” (Pr.1:23). I stopped and began thinking. I admitted that it is so! However, as I was trying to modify it and make it ‘milder’ I remembered certain verses from chapter eight of John’s Gospel, which are much more strict and absolute:
“Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free“” (8:31-32)…“I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you” (v.37)…“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word” (v.43)…“He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God”. (v.47).
So, I answered and said: “Yes, it is very strict, absolute and true, BUT what I have written is also absolutely true! In addition, I have seen it being applied in my life and in the life of other people”. And I explained: “The meaning of the verse is very simple: A man – whether a believer or an unbeliever – who accepts God’s rebukes, God will give him His Spirit that will help him understand His words. Absolutely clear! Those who do not accept God’s exhortations, rebukes or commandments will not be given the necessary light to understand God’s words! That is why it is written that “…the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Yes, this is God’s judgement! (Joh.3:19). Also that “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God” (2Co.4:4). God’s wrath remains on them (Joh.3:36) and vice versa. Thus, understanding Christ’s words is not a matter of human intelligence or of culture or of experience but it is a matter of accepting Christ’s words or not! They have not yet embraced His words by their heart. Their pride and stubbornness do not permit them to see the truth! They pull away their shoulder and stop their ears from listening. When a man loves the light (that is the truth) more than anything else, then the truth – the words of grace and wisdom – will be revealed to him and he will be set free from his sin and his blindness. The more we humbly accept God’s rebukes as well as His promises the more light we will get, whether the rebukes come directly from God, that is from reading His Word or indirectly through fellow men by their preaching, teaching and discussions! “When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom.” (Pr.11:2). Jesus said: “…Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (Joh.11:40). Faith and obedience precede, and light or vision follows! “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.” (Pr.22:4). Consequently, those who do not accept Christ’s words, who do not repent from and do not confess sincerely and in godly sorrow their sins, will never see the truth: Unbelievers will not be saved and believers will not grow in grace and in spiritual knowledge.
It is very important to pay attention to the verses that follow the verse under study and which speak about the consequences if we do not respect the commandments and exhortations of the Lord: “Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke ……. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. 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.” (Pr.1:24-30). Since the reproofs of instruction are the way of life, (Pr.6:23), he who refuses correction goes astray (Pr.10:17); he who hates correction is stupid (Pr.12:1); and he who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Pr.29:1), let us all pray God that all Christ’s words find place and abide in us.
Conclusion: Those who “water down” the Word of God, who mix it with their ideas in order to make it ‘softer’ and more acceptable by the multitudes, in order to become more popular, sin both against God and against themselves…
It is very useful, on the other hand, to pay attention to the Lord’s reproofs and love them. Love the reproofs of the Lord? But that is not normal! Man’s soul likes only “praises”… Yet, it is necessary to take very seriously into consideration God’s Word that says: “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment” (Job 32:8-9 AV). It means, in the first place, that there is a spirit in man but it is inspiration of God that gives him intelligence; in the second place, that man’s mind without God’s inspiration doesn’t have any spiritual intelligence. In other words, the Bible admits and clearly tells us that there is a spirit in man, but without God’s inspiration man remains without spiritual intelligence… God’s reproofs that inspire and give wisdom must be sought-after and kept!
Closing this short message, I would like to refer to Heb.13:20-21 that says: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Heb.13:20-21 RSV). Therefore, if and when we do what is pleasing in His sight (in this case: the acceptance of His profitable reproofs), then He will also make in us what is pleasing before Him. He will bless us! Let’s arm ourselves, therefore, with this humble and receptive spirit that is prompt to accept God’s blessings. If then we ask Him for His inspiration – that is to say, His Spirit – is He going to refuse it to us? (Lu.11:13). Absolutely not! Our spiritual intelligence is from Him. To Him, then, the glory for ever and ever!!! Amen.