We are going to turn to the word of God now. So if you'd like to take a Bible, if you've got a hard copy of the Bible and turn to proverbs chapter 20, and the words will appear on the screen behind me as well. We're going to read the whole chapter. We're carrying on this series We've been doing through the book of Proverbs, and it's been wonderful to be hearing the Lord speaking to us with such force and freshness through this ancient wisdom book.
And Rory Kanared, 1 of our elders is going to be coming to preach chapter 20 to us in just a moment. Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler. Whoever is led astray by them is not wise. A king's wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion. Those who anger him forfeit their lives.
It is one's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. Sluggets do not plow in season. So at harvest time, they look but find nothing. The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters. But 1 who has insight draws them out.
Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find. The righteous lead blameless lives, blessed are their children after them. When a king sits on his throne to judge, he windows out all evil with his eyes. Who can say, I have kept my heart pure, I am clean, and without sin? Differing weights and differing measures, the lord detests them both.
Even small children are known by their actions. So is their conduct really pure and upright? Is that hear and eyes that see the Lord has made them both? Do not love sleep or you will grow poor. Stay awake and you will have food to spare.
It's no good, it's no good, says the buyer, then goes off and boasts about the purchase. Gold there is and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel. Take the garment of 1 who puts up security for a stranger, hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider. Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but 1 ends up with a mouthful of gravel. Plans are established by seeking advice so if you wage war, obtain guidance.
A gossip betrays a confidence, so avoid anyone who talks too much. If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness. An inheritance claim too soon will not be blessed at the end. Do not say, I'll pay you back for this wrong. Wait for the lord and he will offend you.
The lord detests differing weights. And dishonest scales do not please him. A person's steps are directed by the Lord, how then can anyone understand their own way? It is a trap to dedicate something rashly, and only later to consider one's vows. A wise king winnows out the wicked He drives the threshing wheel over them.
The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one's inmost being. Love and faithfulness keep a king safe. Through love, his throne is made secure. The glory of young men is their strength, grey hair, the splendor of the old. Blow and wounds scrub away evil and beatings purge.
The inmost being. Well, good morning for me. My name is Rory. As Tom said, I'm 1 of the Elders here at Cornerstone, and it's great that we're looking again at this wonderful book of Proverbs. Let's pray as we begin, and then we'll get stuck in.
Father. We thank you so much for your word. We thank you that you give us. It's in in various different ways, in various different genres, and we thank you so much for the book of Proverbs. And we pray father that as we as we look at this now, that you will help us, that you'll help us to listen, that you'll help us to be convicted where we need convicting, and that you will lift our eyes and you will show us the glory of your wonderful son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And so we pray this in his name, amen. Now, I'm sure you've all had experience of filling out questionnaires or having those sort of diagnostic a test or maybe it's a self evaluation. Everyone loves a good self evaluation, don't they? Or maybe or maybe a medical health check or or or is it a visa application or or something along those lines. We've all had to fill in these questionnaires to discover if we're okay.
To find out if we're able to proceed with something or maybe if we have to not proceed with something. You know, those sort of questions, do you have a criminal conviction? Yes. I can't come into the country then, devastated. Or how many Do you drink?
How many drinks do you have? How many units per day? Do you smoke? Then you're in trouble. Or or have you met the targets?
Have you met the quota that you're meant to meet at work? Have you sold enough units to pass? Or maybe the classic if you're a student. What went well, even better if I did what? With the worst 2 questions I hate them.
Now I think that chapter 20 of of the book of Proverbs is is a similar thing. It's a spiritual test. It's a diagnostic test to see about our spiritual health. It's a questionnaire about my spiritual health, your spiritual health, humanity's spiritual health. And you may have noticed that there are 3 questions pretty early on in this passage to check how we're doing spiritually.
Look with me, firstly, at verse 6. Many claim to have unfailing love. But a faithful person who can find. You know, there are a lot of people in this world who have claimed that they're pretty decent. I could tell you a whole host of my achievements.
Actually, there's not a lot of achievements. You know, people like to think that they are somehow greater than they are. But actually, can we find a faithful person? Then you go to verse 9. Who can say?
I have kept my heart pure. I am clean, and without sin. And then third question, in verse 11, Even small children are known by their actions. So is their conduct really pure and upright? Now, as I've read those questions, I wonder if in your head you thought, There's a positive answer here or a negative answer.
If you've gone for the positive, then can I urge you to reconsider? I hope you realize that as we read that, the answers are pretty negative. Mean, you just need to look at verse 11. When it's said about you think about small children. Are they really pure and upright?
Well, just look at their actions. Yes. They look adorable and cute. I was at a wedding a family wedding. All my nieces and nephews and and my cousins kids, and they look so adorable.
You know, butter wouldn't melt in their mouth. Beautiful angels. That's what I haven't said. Angels. Oh, lovely.
Horendous. I inflicted the worst beating of my life that weekend. I was insulted time and time again called stinky. Children are not good. The answers to these questions are negative.
And actually, as you look throughout the chapter 20 of Proverbs, you'll see it's negative. If this was a test to see whether you pass spiritually or you fail spiritually, I'm afraid that we're probably all gonna fail. Now, you're all waiting on exams rooted probably. The youth here. And they think, oh, am I gonna get a 9 or an 8?
Well, look, you're probably gonna fail this test. And this test is much more important than any of your other exams, yeah, including physics. Whoa. So let's look here now. Firstly, we see failing the test by deed and by words.
Failing the test by deed and by words. And, we see firstly, as we go through this chapter, that we get it wrong in our deeds. I mean, it's starts off with verse 1. B is a brawler. Bear is a brawler that leads people astray.
It doesn't take much searching in society and even on news to find that alcohol has not done people very well. I mean, you just think very recently with this bloke called Chris Pincher, what a name by the way for what he's done. Yeah? Chris Pincher, I drunk too much, and then I've got a little bit handsy. Verse 4, we have a a slug god who's so lazy.
They won't plow, and so they have nothing. The slug gods Just the 1 that says, oh, just maybe just 1 more episode, and then I'll do something productive. And then they finish the episode. Just 1 more episode, and then I'll do something productive. Just 1 more game, and then I'll get back to my work.
But it's unfaithful. You're not doing anyone any favors, and in the end you have nothing. Verse 10 and verse 23, there is injustice There is cheating. There is dishonest scales and dishonest measures and weights. People, if you look at their deeds and if we look at our deeds, we're not passing the spiritual test here.
But more than that, and actually what I think this chapter reveals more about is our words. Let me just fly through some of these verses. Verse 1, again. The wine The 1 who drinks wine is a mocha. Verse 3, there is a fool who is quick to quarrel.
Verse 14, you have someone who's lying about the quality of the good they are buying. And then once they bought it, they boast about how they bought something a little bit dishonestly. There's 17, there is fraudulent speech leading to dishonest gain. Verse 19, there is a gossip who talks too much betraying her confidence. Verse 20, young people.
There is cursing of one's parents. Verse 25, there are rash vows. I mean, if that's not a sign that we mess up in our words and I don't know what is. Quarreling. Using my words to fight and be violent mocking as I put people down so that I'm raised up.
Gossiping as I destroy someone who's confided into in me, cursing one's parents. I mean, we've all probably done that 1 at 1 point. You don't love me. I hate you, mom and dad. Our words reveal to us that we are spiritually poor, that we spiritually fail.
In the book of Romans in chapter 3, there is a a a damning indictment upon our lives. It says, there is no 1 righteous Not even 1. There is no 1 who understands. There is no 1 who seeks God, all have turned away. They have together become worthless There is no 1 who does good, not even 1, and then look at the spiritual health check-in Romans 3, their throats, are open graves.
Their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feats are swift to shed blood, ruin and misery mark their ways in the way of peace, they do not know. There is no fear of gods before their eyes.
And so we come back to our questions that we started with, and the result isn't bright, is it? It's not looking good. And so we see in verse 27, the human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one's in most being. The phrase human spirit could easily be translated that you'll see in your footnote at the bottom of the bible there a person's words. Your words reveal to the lord that you fail the test.
That's what our words, that's what our deeds reveal to the Lord. And so The Lord Jesus Christ. In Matthew chapter 15 and verse 11 says, what goes into someone's mouth does not defile them But what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them. And later on, in verse 18, but the things that come out of a person's mouth come from the hearts, and these defile them. For out of the heart, come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony slander, these are what to file a person.
And so words and deeds reveal and expose the fact that we have fallen short of God's standard. When we asked ourselves of these questions, We're not doing too well. This isn't just a a missed a top grade in the exam. This is not just I missed 9. This is this isn't just I scraped a 4 or 5.
That's a a b or a c for those of us older who didn't have numbers in their exams. This is a result in you. You've failed completely. So we see that we fail the test by words and by deeds. But secondly, we see The consequences of failure are judgment.
The consequences of failure are judgment. See, it's not just that we get it wrong, it's not just that we fail the exam, it's not just that we say things that we shouldn't say and do things that we shouldn't do. But also, when we do those things, there is a just and fair God, the Lord that must deal with sin. And you might have noticed as we read through the chapter, there was 4 mentions of the king. 3 of them, he's judging.
Look at verse 2, a king's wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion. Those who anger him forfeit their lives. The king who in ancient days was also a judge. If you anger him, then you forfeit your life. In verse 8, he sits on his throne to judge.
He windows out all evil with his eyes. And again, in verse 26, He windows out the wicked, he drives a threshing wheel over them. This king cannot have evil in his presence. This king cannot have evil in his kingdom. He must banish it, it angers him, and there is punishment for it.
In verse 10 and 23, the Lord declares his hatred for dishonesty and injustice. In verse 20, those who curse their parents are snuffed out. In verse 22, the Lord must avenge wrongdoing. See, the Lord cannot just turn a blind eye. To sin.
He's not like the teacher in the classroom who sees the naughty kid who's who's not as naughty as usual, but they're doing something they shouldn't be doing, but they're doing it a little bit A little bit okay. So I I can just ignore him. The law's not like that. He's He has to call out sin. He has to say, no.
You're wrong. No. There must be justice. And in Romans, It talks time and time again that there is a day of judgment coming in. It talks about how the the the secrets of men will be brought to light.
It says that we will be held accountable. And by the way, we won't be using words then. We'll be silenced. It says that we will stand before the throne of the judgment of God. And so, there we are.
We stand before a holy, a pure, a just god, and we're worthy of condemnation. I mean, I I will stand there, and and God can reel off a whole things of Rory Kanard's life. Were you quarrelsome? Yes. I was Celtic.
I always argue. Yeah? Did you did you Were you tempted to gossip and put someone down so that you looked better? Yes. Did you curse your parents?
Absolutely. Shame on me. Were you lazy? Yes. Were you rash?
Did you cheat? Yes. Yes. And so, there I am before a Justin Holy God, who must judge sin. And I must ask the question, is there any hope?
It feels like there isn't. I feel hopeless, I feel helpless, and I come back to these questions, verse 6. A faithful person who can find no. There is no faithful person. Is there anyone who can say I kept my heart pure I clean and without sin.
No. There is none. Is there anyone who can say that their conduct is really pure and upright? No. And the gavel of God will come down and say, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.
A hopeless, and a helpless situation, a failed exam, and it it reminds me of Revelation chapter 5, when the Apostle John's looking around for some hope, and he weeps, and he weeps, and he weeps because there is none found worthy And I'm not worthy and I look around and there's none worthy. But then, see The lion. See, the lamb, which leads me to my third point. Passing the test, hope in Christ. Passing the test, hope in Christ.
Now, Hopefully, we felt. And what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to get us to feel that we've got it wrong. We stand condemned before a Holy God. But that's not the end of the story. And we should never grow tired of hearing these truths.
The story doesn't end there. There is 1. The Lord Jesus Christ and we come to these questions verse 6. A faithful person who can find. Yes.
1 that has kept us pure, clean, and without sin. Yes. 1 that is really pure and upright, yes, and what a relief that there is 1. That although I am filthy, although I stand before God, absolutely deserving of his wrath, there is 1 who stands and is completely pure. That is completely upright, that is completely righteous, and blameless.
And, that is what The apostle Peter says about him. There was no deceit found in his mouth. 1 that was patient that didn't try and enact his own revenge in verse 22. 1 who gave himself fully to the plan of God and and submitted to what God wanted him to do so much so that he would go to a cross to his death, 1 that was totally righteous and blameless in verse 7, and amazingly in verse 15, and we're gonna get into verse 15, but 1 who didn't consider the world something to be gained, but thought the knowledge was more important, that the word of God was more important, that 1 that that sought after his word and cherished his word and spoke his words. He cherished the word above all else.
And so here we have Jesus. The righteous 1. The perfect 1, the blameless 1, the spotless 1, the pure 1. That is the Jesus that we can say of these questions. Yes.
Yes, yes, innocent, innocent, innocent, yet. That's innocent 1. That pure 1. That blameless 1 is the 1 who would die for our sins. It's interesting in verse 30.
I didn't really see this until today. But in verse 30, it says, blows and and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being. And there's probably some truth to that, you know. If you get beaten for doing something wrong, you know, you you end up being better. But actually the word beating is I think is stripes.
And the word stripes is the word that is used in Isaiah 53, about the 1 who is succumb whose stripes will heal us. That's what the Lord Jesus comes to do. The Lord Jesus isn't beaten, doesn't receive blows, doesn't receive wounds to scrub away his evil. He's flogged, he's whipped, he's slung on across bloody and beaten, He's having the wrath of God poured upon him, not for anything that he's done. We said he's got no deceit in his mouth.
He was perfect. He's doing it, so that we may be healed. That I, the sinful 1 who who comes to these questions says, no, I'm not blameless, I'm not pure, I'm not upright, I'm not faithful, But now, because of what Jesus has done on a cross, in being wounded, and being stricken, I can be pure. See, the blood of the Lord Jesus, Christ cleanses us from deep within. And so we can come to this question.
Who can say, I have kept my heart pure. I'm clean and without sin. And 1 commenter says, No man could say that. But thousands can testify that the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed them from all unrighteousness. And he is pure from his sin, who is justified freely through the redemption, that is in Jesus.
Praise God for the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise God that there is 1 who will take my sin. So that I may be pure and righteous, that I may be counted blameless, that I may be counted perfect. That I may be justified, that I may go free, and when these questions come upon me, I don't have to say, no. I'm not free.
I can say, Jesus. So let's praise God for our Lord, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Let's trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. You wanna pass this exam. So I'm I'm because you do exams.
You wanna pass an exam I mean, forget your GCSEs, parents don't listen to me. Forget your a levels. Yeah. Load them up. Forget university rubbish.
This is the exam you wanna pass. This is the exam you wanna pass. I don't care about the exams, and neither will you in 10 years time. Sorry, parents. Sorry.
Sorry. But this is the exam. The 1 that counts for your soul. Trust in Christ. You wanna pass his exam?
You can't, but Jesus can. So trust in him. Maybe you're here today and yes, you I hope that you recognize that you're not good. You get it wrong. You've sinned.
You've used the words in wrong ways. You've done things that you shouldn't have done. Praise God that there is 1 who can do it all for you. And so can I urge you If you're here and that's you and you've never trusted in the Lord, Jesus come to him? Trust in him.
Kiss the king. Don't anger him anymore. But trust in him. And so that is my last point, consequences of success. Life.
Consequences of success life. See, in the light of Christ, we can be different. We can be like him. And we can be like him in this chapter that we can reject the negative. We can reject the things that we've seen in terms of the words that we use and the actions that we do, and we can put on the positive.
I said, that there was 4 instances of the king in this passage. Now, in those days, the king, especially in Israel, was 1 who was to show people the nature and the rule of God, the true king. And part of his job as king was to help replicate what it was to be like to live under his rule and to be like him. Now, the kings, as we all know, in the old testament got it wrong. And again, we can say, praise God that we have a king who can lead us to do the right things.
Who can help us to replicate God in the correct ways. And that's what he does perfectly. In the book of Ephesians, And chapter 4, it says the following. Verse 22. You were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be being new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self.
Created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. That's how Christ helps us. In his power, we can take off the old self. We can take off the old self with its quarrelsome nature. We can take the old self off with the gossip.
Can take the old self off with the cursing. And we can put on the new self of Christ. And so in later on in the chapter says, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor. In verse 29, it says, do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths. In verse 31, it says, get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and lander along with every form of malice, put off the old self, and then put on the new self verse 32, be kind and compassionate to 1 another forgiving each other just as Christ forgave you.
So we can be patient like the Lord Jesus was patient. We can discover that there is purpose in the world as we try and live under God's rule and for God. We can be righteous and blameless and and parents and members and brothers and sisters of the church, we can be an example to the children of this church, and they may look at us and they may Chase after what we're chasing in the Lord Jesus Christ. You see that in verse 7? And how do we do this?
Well, it's back to verse 15. Let's let's read verse 15. Gold there is, and Ruby in abundance But lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel. See, there there's many things in this world that you might desire. There are many things that we could chase after gold, and material possessions, and family, and friends, and you know, all those sort of things, but actually this verse here says, those things pale into insignificance when it comes to having knowledge.
It's interesting I was I was reading about children around the world and and and countries in Africa and stuff like that. And they so cherish knowledge that they will they're willing to walk 5 to 6 to 7 kilometers, maybe even fair, they're just to go to school. Right? Just to put that in perspective, I used to live across the road from my school in sixth form and to my shame, I say this. I was late every day.
It was it was all of 40 yards. Because I didn't cherish it like they did. For those who were there on Wednesday night, maybe online or or at the hub, wasn't amazing to hear that there are people around this world who are Christians, who are persecuted, who have been deprived of the Word of God, what do they do? They cherish his word. They live off Psalm 23 because they have to memorize it.
And here I am convicted because I have the bible in so many versions, and in so many languages, and I can't even do a half good job of reading the bible. When it's so readily available available in my hands. So what is the most treasured item you have? What is the thing that if it was gone you would miss the most? What is the thing that that you spend all your time looking at or thinking about.
What is the most thing that you're treasuring? Well, look, can I and I may it might not look like it? I mean I mean, look at this old battered thing. Yeah? It might not look it.
This is the most treasured thing in my house. And I've gotta get that in my head. It isn't my car. It isn't my house. It isn't my golf clubs.
It's this words. And if I want to live like Christ, in the light of what he's done, I must cherish this above all things. I must treasure his word. I must treasure Christ and what he has done for us and how that is revealed to us. In his words.
So as I finish, what about you? How are you doing? With this. When you're asked those questions, what are your answers? Maybe you're here and your answer is no.
No. No. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
Well, come today. Come to Christ. Come to Christ. Know him. Know his healing hands, know his salvation, know his justification, know his redemption.
Now his redemption. Why anger the king any longer? Come. Now him. Love him.
Kiss him. And Christian. Look, we get this wrong, don't we? You probably just have to spend the week with me to find out that I've used my words in poor fashion. I've done things with my life in poor fashion.
Well, can I urge you to re evaluate? Fix your eyes in the Lord Jesus Christ again. See the pure and blameless 1. See the innocent 1. See the 1 who dies for your sins.
Treasure his word above all else. Cherish him and his words cherish him and then go and live in the light of these things. Let's pray. Finally, we thank you for the reminder that we are not good people, that we're sinful that we've fallen short of your perfect standards, that we deserve judgment. Yet, we also thank you that you provided us with 1 who passes the test for us.
We thank you for the 1 that never got it wrong. We thank you for the 1 that had no deceit in his mouth. We thank you for the 1 that was willing to be stricken for us. And we pray father that we will cherish the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word above all other things. Let us forsake everything else I make this our priority so that we may live for you in Jesus' name, our, ma'am.