#244, THE BASIS OF FAITH, #19
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate, PRO 8:13.
What is the basis or foundation of your faith? Who is speaking in our text? Wisdom; wisdom is speaking and saying that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. Our topic is the basis of the assurance of our faith.
See in PSA 111:10 how the Psalmist teaches that the fear of the Lord is the choicest graces. Grace is that which we have received from the Lord that would be impossible to obtain any other way; without His free gift, we would be destitute of it. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever," PSA 111:10.
Chapter 8 of Proverbs teaches us about wisdom; in its conclusion we read in Verse 35, "For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD." If we have found wisdom, true wisdom, we have found life and the Lord's favor, "But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death," PRO 8:36.
Therefore, wisdom is a principle element, is it not? "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." What is the fear of the Lord? It is to hate evil, arrogancy, pride, the evil way, and a forward mouth. It is to hate sin. Let's see why this is one of the choicest graces. It is because by nature we love sin. We cannot separate wisdom and the fear of the Lord; they are one. When one fears the Lord he has the beginning of wisdom. If one has wisdom, he will have life and the favor of the Lord. It brings us into the favor of God when we understand the fear of the Lord, to understand what it is to hate all evil.
It is not having certain experiences even though they may be rich and many. The gifts of experiences are not salvation; they may be the fruit of salvation, as we see from 1CO 10:1-12, but in themselves they do not constitute salvation. One can have those rich experiences and still not have salvation, but not one God-fearing soul will be cast into hell. If we fear the Lord, we have the beginning of wisdom, and those who have this beginning find the favor of the Lord.
This teaches us that "...to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth..." which our text calls the fear of the Lord, is the richest assurance of faith obtainable. If you examine your heart to determine whether or not you have the assurance of faith, you must base your examination not upon experiences, but upon the Word of God, and the Word of God says, "For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it," PRO 8:11. Wisdom is the principle desire and gift, the choicest grace; nothing can compare with wisdom.
We must understand what it is to obtain the favor of God. "For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD." God was so pleased that King Solomon valued wisdom above riches and honour that He said in 1KI 3:11-13, "Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And [now see what the Lord added] I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days."
The Lord was so pleased that King Solomon's choicest desire was wisdom, and He entrusted him with blessings that were never requested. However, we may not overlook the admonition the Lord gave along with this promise of wisdom and the riches and honor. We go to 1KI 3:14; "And if thou wilt walk in my way [in the fear of God], to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days." Therefore, if Solomon would keep God's law and commandments, he would also have the blessing of a long life.
When our heart is right with the Lord, we find God gives us the desire of our heart, but also adds greater blessings as His reward. The Lord will grant everything we ask according to His will if our heart is right; if our heart is right, we do not ask for things that are not according to His will.
PRO 16:6-8 says, "By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right." The Lord is teaching us that our heart's desire and our priorities have to be right. When this is right, there's the basis we see the assurance of faith. If we have godly fear and wisdom, that is the strongest evidence of our saving faith.
We also see that if a man's ways do not please the Lord He often gives the desire of the heart as a judgment. Think about this; many times we can be caught up in covetousness, and we can have our heart's desire, but there is a penalty. PSA 106:13-15 says, "They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul."
One time I was going through a real struggle; I felt the Lord was leading the way. All of a sudden I saw a shortcut; I could get out of the trial. The Lord laid that verse on my heart; He would give me my heart's desire, but would send leanness in my soul. I didn't want the shortcut; I didn't dare take it because I could see it was not the Lord's pleasure. If I were to fail in perseverance in the struggle, He would deliver me, but He would send leanness in my soul. That was an immense admonition; it was such a horrifying feeling to think that the Lord would withdraw and send leanness.
God's Word clearly tells us how that love, i.e., charity, and true godly fear are inseparable. Charity is an absolutely necessary grace to claim salvation; without charity we have nothing. We see this in COL 1:8-10-11; "Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit [charity]. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; [which is true godly fear that is seen by its fruit] That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness." As soon as they heard of their love in the Spirit, they prayed immediately that they would be filled with knowledge and wisdom.
The most positive basis for assurance of faith is "The fear of the LORD [which our text says] is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth..." which is a twin with charity, i.e., "a supreme love to God, and a universal good will towards all men," Websters Christian Dictionary. You cannot hate God and your neighbour and have a God-fearing spirit; you cannot separate charity from the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is a desire to know and do His will; it is a holy reverence for the will of God. Where you have charity, fear of the Lord is also present. They are synonymous.
COL 3:12-16 says, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Notice that wisdom, charity, love, and the second table of the law are all blended in these verses into one grace. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; it is to hate evil. In love we see the practice of righteousness toward others.
Oh, beloved, there is so much in our day which passes for faith that is totally void of any Scriptural basis. We are talking about the basis or foundation of our faith. To rightly divide the Word of Truth we must take admonition from what God told Joshua in JOS 1:7; "Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest." Satan is a master at moving people to either the right or left through overreactions.
Our Saviour gave us two very solemn admonitions; we must adhere to them to most reverently divide the Word of Truth, to determine wherein we have the assurance of faith. They are solemn admonitions, and there is a great danger in going to either the right or left hand.
The first admonition is "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you," MAT 7:6. When we presumptuously call a person who lacks true repentance and regeneration to have faith in a divine promise to which they have no right or title, then we are casting the pearls of Christ before swine.
The admonition on the other side is found in MAT 18:6, "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." If we see a person with little faith, we may not trample on it; we may not justify such actions believing if it is true faith, it will burn higher and brighter next time. It is blasphemous.
Therefore, we may not "...offend one of these little ones which believe in" Him, but we must watch that we do not build up one who is presumptuous. So in the right dividing of the Word, it is a great responsibility to remain scriptural as on what basis do I dare to claim I have believed in the Lord.
Faithful preaching must expose those who are resting on some divine promise while they are still outside of Christ, but be very careful not to offend one who is in Christ. It is most important to find that fine dividing line between the two, encouraging those babes in Christ and not encouraging a presumptuous person.
While a sinner remains unregenerate, he is outside of Christ, and therefore outside all divine promises for they are only for those who are in Christ. We must not use divine promises to lure unrepentant people to Christ. The promises do not become theirs until they are in Christ. 2CO 1:20 says, "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us." All the promises are in Christ; if one is outside of Christ, divine promises may not be applied to him. That is the first mark we must watch.
On the other side of this principle it is most important to identify those who are quickened, yet are not yet established in the faith so they are not offended. We must use the Sword of the Spirit to divide; the Sword of the Holy Spirit convicts the heart and does the dividing. I cannot sit as the judge of your heart, you cannot judge mine. Both must be judged by the Word of God. That is why the Word must be faithfully unfolded so it will be the conviction in one's heart.
MAT 18:4-6 says, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." If a person is a babe in grace and not mature enough to be able to reach out with the hand of faith to take the promises, we must be very careful not to offend him. On the other side of this same principle, we may not encourage one who is not a babe in grace, i.e., who is outside of grace. Verse 5 continues, "And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
It is so important and a great responsibility not to offend one that has believed in Christ and has the work of regeneration and the grace of the fear of God, nor to feed the presumptuous. So to find that middle ground, so as not to encourage the presumptuous, nor to offend one of God's little ones let me ask a question. You judge in the court of your own conscience. I believe it is the dividing line and is scriptural. Here is the question. Is the simple act of accepting Christ sufficient to save the soul?
The answer is, NO, it is not! The Lord Jesus Christ taught that there is no salvation without repentance. The first thing to be sought in the self-examination of the heart is the presence of repentance. LUK 13:3 tells us, "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Put these questions before the court of your conscience: Do you know anything of repentance and remorse over having offended God? Do you realize it was your sins that nailed Him to the cross? Do you see the sinfulness of sin? Do you hate sin? Our text says, "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil..." When you examine your heart, do you still see your heart filled with love for sin? Do you refrain from sin because of the consequences, or because it is an offense to God and you hate it?
The answers will determine whether you have true saving faith or presumption. Without repentance there is no saving faith. The words, Believeth not in JOH 3:36 are taken from the Greek word apeithes which means "contumacious, i.e., haughty; obstinate; perverse; stubborn; inflexible; unyielding; disobedient; as a contumacious child."
Now take these words in the light of our text to see a total contrast between believeth not and believeth. "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." PRO 8:13. There is no way one can mistake unbelief for belief. The identifying marks are totally opposite from each other.
Unbelief is haughty, obstinate, perverse, stubborn, inflexible, unyielding, and/or disobedient. If that is unbelief, tell me from your own heart what is it to believe. It is the fear of the Lord wherein one hates evil, pride, arrogance, evil ways, and a froward mouth.
Now see how this term believeth not is used to contrast the term believeth. JOH 3:36 says, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." If you rightly understand what it means to believe, how can you mistake one for the other? An examination of your heart will reveal whether or not you still yearn for things that promote the flesh. Does the heart yearn after the things that exalt self, or when we see these things in our heart, do we hate and cry against them? Arrogance and pride comes in the heart of man by nature. Is that the source of the spiritual warfare waged within you?
How do we decide if we are presumptuous or are babes in Christ? Those who mourn over these things in their heart are not unbelievers, because they are not haughty or obstinate or perverse. It is not hard to distinguish the two; they are like positive and negative. However, I cannot come to another person to say they are a believer or an unbeliever. That must be discerned in the heart and the court of one's own conscience. The duty of the pastor is to unfold to each where the distinctions are.
Can an unrepentant person, one, whose rebellion against God has not been broken, rightly claim to be a believer? Can that person say, "I have accepted Christ, and therefore, I am a believer," when their heart is still filled with rebellion against the will of God? There is no such thing.
Our text says, "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate."
I visited with a man who said he might be more religious than I. I replied that it could well be. There is more religion in the world today than ever before. However, the difference is "I fear God and you do not."
See the contrast between those who fear the Lord and what we read in PSA 36:1-4. "The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flattereth himself [see the pride] in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil."
The wicked are filled with pride; it is unrestrained. If we understand grace and the fear of the Lord, we know we have these things in our heart, but they are the source of a spiritual war. The Spirit is striving against these things in a constant battle for the heartfelt desire is to be able to overcome them. The wicked have left off all wisdom, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom...", and have no fear of God. They do not abhor evil, and the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. Do you see the total contrast? The two are as far apart as east and west or life and death. It should not be hard to discern it in one's soul.
A simple faith which remains alone is as dead as a body without a soul. That is the distinction between life and death, spiritually. We read this in JAM 2:26; "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." If we are not doing the works of charity, the works in the service of the Lord, in our walk of life, our faith is as dead as a body without a soul.
As you analyze and search your own heart so you can decide whether or not you have faith, the Word must be in your heart, before your conscience. Do you have saving faith? Saving faith purifies the heart. ACT 15:8-9 says, "And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." Do we understand the work of purification in our hearts and the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit? It means that we hate sin and love Christ. If our hearts know nothing of this purifying process of faith, do not claim saving faith.
Saving faith works by love, charity. "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love," GAL 5:6. Faith works by love, by charity. Do you have the works of love?
Saving faith overcomes the world. 1JO 5:4 says, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." These are the marks of saving faith; these are the marks of godly fear. They are the evidences upon which we base our assurance.
Any faith which is not accompanied by works of love will never overcome the world and is no better than the faith we read of in JAM 2:18-20. A person can have faith, even faith to move mountains, without having saving faith. "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." You believe and do not tremble; the devils have more faith than you if yours is not accompanied by works of love. We can have a presumptuous faith without having saving faith. Any works not accompanied by love will not overcome the world. A person can have presumption without having saving faith.
There are multitudes who believe they have been saved from hell who will find they have been deceived. Read this in MAT 7:21-23. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." They had faith, they died in faith, they died believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. They lacked faith accompanied by works of love that overcome the world. They continued to live in iniquity and never understood the work of regeneration. They never understood repentance, but they had faith. They believed in Christ, even preaching in His name.
To ask a person if he has been saved from hell is much more unclear than to inquire if he has been saved from sin. Ask the person if they are saved, and if the answer is yes, the next question is: From what? Ninety-nine percent will say they are in Christ and have been saved from hell; they are going to go to heaven. How many will say they have been saved from sin? If you have been saved from sin, you have been saved from hell. A lot of people who think they are saved from hell have never been saved from sin.
That is the many that Jesus is referring to when He said, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." That is a solemn reality. They are presumptuous; they have faith and believe in Jesus with all of their hope for salvation in Him, but they lack the fear of God. They are religious, but they do not fear the Lord. MAT 1:21 says, "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." Do we hate sin? Have we been delivered from the power of it?
To be saved from sin is to be saved from the love of sin. This is a very important point. A person may say they used to do many evil things, but now they do not do those things. But are they really saved from sin? Engage in a bit of cross-examination before the court of your conscience as we unfold these Scriptures. If we have been saved from sin, it means that we have been saved from the love of sin. We are not concerned about getting caught in sin; we are concerned about falling in sin, committing sin. Many people are more concerned about getting caught than the sin itself.
A man was a great church leader for forty years. Then he openly admitted he had been buying prostitutes for forty years. There was no remorse; he still loved sin. He was finally caught, and now he is embarrassed. Living in sin didn't bother him.
To be saved from sin is to be saved from the love of it. JOH 3:19 says, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." They loved the sins; they didn't want them to be revealed. That is where we must examine our hearts. Do we have the love of sin broken in us?
The heart of man by nature is married to everything that is in opposition to God. There is a love union between man and the things of sin that must be broken. A death is mandatory. We must die unto sin before we can be married with Christ, cf., ROM 7:1-10.
PSA 51:3-7 says, "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts [That is where we must examine ourselves. To fear the Lord is to hate sin. Do we hate it? Has sin become our enemy?]: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. [We need wisdom in the deep, hidden thoughts, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." The desire of our heart is now for the Lord to find the filth and clean it out. The love for it is gone.
The work of regeneration makes the soul cry out with Job in JOB 42:5-6; "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Now, there is found a delight in the things of the Lord in the inner parts, and we abhor the sins of the flesh. If the love of sin is not broken in our heart, the Lord will not hear our prayers. To claim answers to many prayers while cherishing sin in the heart is direct contradiction to the Word of God.
PSA 66:18-20 says, "If I regard [if I cherish or love] iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer." The love of sin must be broken. He has become a God-fearing man who hates sin. If he has access to the Lord and the Lord has heard and answered his prayer, that means he has come to Him with a God-fearing spirit.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. PRO 8:1-13 says, "Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? [Don't we have the witness in our own soul? Is sin our biggest enemy?] She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. [That means God has given you and me a tender conscience; if it isn't seared by overruling and trampling upon it by willfully sinning against it, there is wisdom that cries to us whenever there is an occasion for sin.] Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. [Wisdom and the fear of the Lord run parallel.] All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." Amen.
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