AGCC Sun. a.m. 7/8/2001
#1 (Proverbs Series - "7 Things God Hates")
TEXT: Prov. 6:16-17a; 21:4 Deut. 8:6-20
INTRO:When the Bible tells us that God hates something you can be sure it is because of the damage it causes us. God hates anything that separates us from Him, hence his hatred for sin.
In telling us the 7 things God hates in Proverbs the writer is attempting to map out a path for us to follow, a path that leads to life and not death. The reason the 7 things start first with "haughty eyes" is that pride is the foundation for sin, it is at the root of all sins in our lives.
ILLUS:The essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison. It was through pride that the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind. -- C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 9240.
God hates such pride, called here "haughty eyes" because the elevation of self leads to destruction and separation from God, thus God hates sin, not sinners, because it destroys us and God's purposes for our lives. Pride is self destructive!
ILLUS:Many a bee has been drowned in his own honey. -- Vern McLellan, The Complete Book of Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996).
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us to guard our hearts against arrogance, pride that destroys. God hates such pride because it does destroy us, He desires good for us.
I. GOD'S WILL Deut. 8:6-10 22:7-16
A. Delightful Gifts 8:6-9
1. God has a formula for blessing us, for us to experience all the joy and benefits He has for us: (8:6)
a. "Observe the commands of the Lord your God..."
b. "...walking in His ways..."
c. "... and revering Him."
2. Doing these 3 things will prevent unhealthy pride from developing, and it will produce healthy confidence in both God and self, confidence that is not self directed but God directed.
3. God has always desired His people to be blessed, even in material ways.
a. This doesn't mean it is His will for everyone to be very rich, but to have adequate supply and often more.
b. The Christian life is not meant to be some dreary experience, laden with sacrifices so that we are miserable ... that is a false concept of walking with God.
c. God has always meant for our relationship to Him to be one of joy, fulfillment, needs met and more.
4. It is clear here that God meant to give them everything they would ever need, after all the promise land was called "a land flowing with milk and honey."
a. It is not wrong to want good things and to ask God for them ... as long as they don't lead our hearts away from Him or produce unhealthy pride in us.
b. God actually takes delight in blessing His people, this is so clear in taking them to "a land flowing with milk and honey," a place of abundance!
5. The danger however exists when such prosperity leads our dependency on God away from Him, this is a constant battle with success and blessings.
ILLUS:In 1863 President Lincoln designated April 30th as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. National humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Let me read a portion of his proclamation on that occasion:
"It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, who owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by a history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. The awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has grown, but we have forgotten God." -- Richard Halverson, "The Question Facing Us," Preaching Today, Tape 46.
B. Directed Gratitude 8:10
1. God intended such blessings to direct our gratitude TOWARD Him!
a. It was meant to inspire us to recognize God's goodness in our lives.
b. It was not meant to inspire selfish or arrogant pride.
c. It is certain our early ancestors understood God's gifts and blessings as a way of acknowledging His goodness, hence the creation of the holiday Thanksgiving, a time to thank God for His bounty.
2. Many of Israel's feasts included celebrating abundance, such as the harvest festival known as Pentecost, with the intention of giving God gratitude.
a. Such blessings from God are meant to help us realize that ALL blessings are from Him, not just our food!
ILLUS:We may acknowledge our Divine Provider over the roast and mashed potatoes, but how often are we deliberately thankful for the water from our taps? The wood for our houses and our furniture? The paper for our books and napkins and note pads? The brick and metal and fabric and countless other materials we use and enjoy? God through nature made them all possible. We would do well to remember. -- Philip Wiebe in The Christian Leader (April 9, 1991). Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 14.
b. So often we are careful to bow our heads and thank God for the meal, and this is good ... but what about the other daily blessings of God on our life?
3. Keeping our eyes on God for what He has done will help us keep our eyes off our self and self importance ... it will keep us humble.
a. When you don't have God to thank you only have yourself ... this leads to arrogance, to making yourself out to be God!
ILLUS:The most conceited man in the world? He called Dial-a-Prayer to see if there were any messages. -- Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990).
b. If the human heart doesn't acknowledge God and His sovereignty over everything it becomes puffed up and elevates self to levels only reserved for God!
II. GOD'S WARNINGS 8:11-20 Prov. 6:16-17a; 21:4
A. Dishonoring God 8:11-18; Prov. 6:16-17a; 21:4
1. When we begin to forget the past benefits and help from God we will begin a process of developing ungodly pride.
a. Every time Israel forgot the past they ruined their future!
b. No wonder God asked them time and time again to set up memorials -- so they would never forget!
c. Actually, this was mainly the reason for the feasts too, to constantly remind them of God's help in the past, the struggles of faith that were won in the past.
2. Any nation that forgets how God helped them in the past is doomed to fail in the future.
3. Perhaps this is why the Devil has used prosperity in these last days to damage the Church, he learned a long time ago that this was a much more effective weapon against the Church than persecution!
ILLUS:Prosperity has often been fatal to Christianity, but persecution never. -- An Amish bishop quoted in The Economist (July 22, 1989). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 16.
a. Christianity is growing in every country of the world EXCEPT America!
b. Have we forgotten our dependency on God?
4. It isn't the wealth itself that is evil, but how we let it affect us!
a. God wants us to trust Him, to depend on Him, even in prosperity!
b. Blessings DON'T have to lead us away from God, they can also lead us to worship Him with thankful hearts, rejoicing over His love for us in providing so wonderfully for us.
c. This was surely God's intent for Israel in giving them this goodly land.
5. Moses even tells them here that the reason God sent them through a tough wilderness was to teach them this ... to trust in Him ALWAYS!
a. If God can be trusted in the desert, He can also be trusted in the promise land.
b. God had hoped to teach them dependence BEFORE giving them blessings in great quantities.
6. The struggle is in keeping the spiritual values in the midst of abundance.
ILLUS:Lech Walesa made the observation that "Americans are drifting away from spiritual values as they become richer." He said that "sooner or later we will have to go back to our fundamental values, back to God, the truth, the truth which is in God." And then he made a most interesting statement: "We look to America, and we expect from you a spiritual richness to meet the aspirations of the 20th century." -- Quoted by James A. Baker III in Decision (May 1990). Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 10.
7. Israel could have set the example to the world of God's wonderful richness, in both material and spiritual things ... but they would have had to keep the path clear from pride!!
a. When we don't acknowledge God's provisions we dishonor Him!
b. God is the one "who gives the ability to produce wealth!" 8:18
c. When a nation or person acknowledges this openly and freely they proclaim God's reality to the rest of the world, and thereby helping the other nations desire to serve the Lord also.
d. There were times when Israel was the light to the Gentiles, but pride always put that candle out and bred rebellion against God within its own nation.
8. The struggle in the desert was meant to deepen their walk and trust in God, so the abundant blessings in a land of plenty would drive them to worship the God who had blessed them so much.
a. And for a while it did this.
b. But failure to maintain that thankfulness stirred up "haughty eyes" or pride, a pride that made them think they could continue their greatness without God or by worshiping foreign gods that were made out of stone or wood.
c. What about our nation, do we have "gods" of gold and silver, and images we worship that detract us from the real God?
9. God hates anything that steals our heart away from Him ... not because He is selfish and needs us, but because He knows how we will destroy ourselves in our pride, just as Satan did long ago ... and God hates destruction and loss, and so hates sinful pride.
a. Do you think you can do just fine without God?
b. Do you believe MORE in yourself than God?
c. Do you believe you have created your wealth by your own hand?
B. Disaster Guaranteed! 8:19-20
1. Where did all this lead them?
b. The end result of sin that is not dealt with is destruction!
2. A failure to be honest about pride can leave us without a correct view of reality!
ILLUS:A mayor who was very proud of his city was asked how the recession had affected it. He answered, "We don't have a recession here, but I will admit we are having the worst boom in many years. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 394.
3. God had given the other nations that had possessed this good land hundreds of years to change their ways too, but when they failed God drove them out.
a. God will not FAVOR Israel if they travel the same road of destruction.
b. Indeed later on Israel was destroyed as a nation.
4. Over many years they went through cycle after cycle of prosperity and then captivity ... always because their hearts drifted away from God in prosperity and they forgot the Lord!
a. Again, it doesn't mean you can't be blessed and keep that blessing, but you must not forget the Lord in all those blessings.
b. We must be careful not to turn away from the Lord in all His goodness.
c. Israel took God and His blessings for granted, until they were taken away.
5. We must also guard our hearts from prideful thinking, that it is always the other guy that has the problem with pride, not us!
ILLUS:While visiting a neighbor, five-year-old Andrew pulled out his kindergarten class picture and immediately began describing each classmate. "This is Robert; he hits everyone. This is Stephen. He never listens to the teacher. This is Mark. He chases us and is very noisy." Pointing to his own picture, Andrew commented, "And this is me. I'm just sitting here minding my own business." -- Kathy Plate, Orlando, Florida. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom."
a. Many times Israel was stunned when God used a more wicked nation than they were to chastise them!
b. This only proved their arrogance, instead of seeing their own need they would ask God why the other guy who was worse than they were escape judgment.
c. Pride is a horrible thing, for it completely robs us of God's presence and power, and sets us up for a huge fall. We also read in Prov 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."
6. God takes no pleasure in a person or nation falling, it is His desire to lift us up and bless us, but He can only do that when we are humble before Him and acknowledge Him.
7. God hates "haughty eyes" ... there is no getting around it, pride destroys.
a. Pride is at the top of the list because it is at the bottom of so many other sins.
b. How about you, where is your heart today?
c. Who gets their own way, you or God?
d. Is pride destroying your life?
CONCLUSION: At the root of all sin is a "haughty" or proud heart -- the wrong kind of pride! Sinful pride comes from an unwillingness to obey God, to set up your own truth and do things your own way, to disregard God and His Word. Destruction is the fruit of the unrepentant proud heart. God delights however in those who acknowledge Him and walk in His ways. Humble yourselves in the eyes of the Lord, and He will lift you up!