Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.
When I read this verse last night, I immediately thought of the character Fagan in the movie “Oliver!”, based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. You’ll recall him as someone you’d suspect of being up to no good the moment you laid eyes on him. If he suggested anything to you, you’d smell a rat.
Unfortunately, the enemy of our souls is much more subtle in many of his ‘offerings’. They can have the appearance of acceptability but to the discerning eye the truth is apparent. Have you ever given thought to how you know what is evil and what is good? How do we know that we are being enticed? How do we appropriately recognize sinful men?
Think of commercials on TV and much of the programming. How do we recognize what is appropriate and what entices us to evil. Often the problem is not the product, but the content and nature of its ‘packaging’. What is the advertiser (enticer) using to get us to watch the commercial and hopefully buy the product?
Fortunately, God provides the answers and the plan for us to become discerning and wise in this everyday issue. A couple of days ago I wrote about the importance of the growth process in our faith. We must recognize that this is another area we must grow in. It is significantly wrapped up in God’s word. In Hebrews 5:12-14 the writer powerfully addresses this problem:
12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
We must become thoroughly acquainted with God’s word and its teachings on righteousness. This not only leads us to maturity in our faith, but it prepares us to intentionally and constantly train ourselves to distinguish good from evil. It doesn’t happen by accident. Nor does it happen with a cursory (the opposite of thorough) knowledge and application of His word. We will miss too many things that will cause harm both to us and those we are responsible for. Even worse is how poorly our lives will present our faith and reflect upon our God if we do not embrace and live out this process.