Probing Proverbs: 4:14-15 Don’t do as the wicked do, and don’t follow the path of evildoers. Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving.
I remember years ago I took a trip on a windjammer from Oahu, to three outer islands. This required us to travel the Molokai channel. When we first anchored the boat off of Lanai I dove off the boat into crystal clear and calm water. It was a great swim to shore. Later that day we were traveling up the channel, the captain said we could get out and swim, but we needed to understand the current. It did not look like much, but he had everybody look to the back of the boat, and there was a very long rope. His warning was clear; that rope was for us to grab once the current had moved us to the back of the boat. So I got up and with many others dove off the front of the boat into the deep blue waters. We were all talking and just treading water; it felt great. We saw a few people trying to swim ahead and even though they were really stroking, they were not moving ahead very fast. In a very short time, those of us that were basically just floating were behind the boat and moving away from it fast. We all grabbed the rope and climbed back on board. But the lesson never left me, when there is a current; standing still is not an option!
This proverb is actually warning us of this reality.
The wisdom here is truly incredible! If we follow its logic, our sin life will decrease exponentially, we can "blastoff" away from sin. We are talking about a lifestyle, not a few missteps. The key is that the warning goes to the source of our problem not the symptoms. God said “As a man thinks, so is he.” Our problem is we play with sin in our head. Wisdom gives us a two-fold plan of action – first – don’t think about it. How? What this means is when the thought occurs – confront and dismiss it right away! But Nate I do that and still sin! If all I do is that, so do I. The key is the second step; after you dismiss it, REPLACE it with proper thoughts. Thoughts of our Lord and your love for Him.
The spiritual current we live in is far stronger than the one I swam in! Sin nature never stops moving! If you try to just stand still, you will find yourself being swept by that old nature into a stronger bondage! That is why the Proverb is so correct; there is no “treading water” or neutral in our walk. We either are moving forward by actions we are doing and thoughts we are meditating on, or we are moving back toward sin. There are two ways to move backward. Either by deliberate rebellion, or when we think we can switch our life to cruise. Sin’s current will move you if you do not proactively move in the right direction. Jesus warned about cleaning a house, but not filling it with something better:
Matthew 12:43–45 “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. 45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.”
The principle here is not a “sometime” reality! Wisdom exhorts us to “keep moving”; standing still just lets sin catch back up! Don’t just flee from sin…run toward God!
The so what? Have you ever “slipped” into neutral in your life, what happened? When you encounter a temptation, what do you do? Can you make a list of victories over habitual sins in your life with God? Did you replace those habits with things that would lead to God? How much time do you spend focused on getting away from sin, compared to time spent pursuing Christ?