24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
I want to focus here on Christian communication—not just in what we say with our mouths, but how we communicate the gospel through our daily lives.
We have all talked ungodly talk. We have all performed ungodly actions. We have all brought shame to the name of Jesus in some small way. There is no thing that we have been tempted in, or have done, that is uncommon among other believers. There is no thing that we have been tempted in, or have done, that the mercy of God through the blood of Jesus will not forgive.
Though we have repented in a general sense when we put our faith in Jesus, we should continue to evaluate ourselves and continue to repent of the sins that overtake us. We don’t repent in the same sense that we repented at the beginning of our faith, but we will need to turn away from sin, thank Jesus for His blood that has already forgiven us, and seek Him to help lead us onward so that we can overcome and bring more honor to Him.
As we learn to focus on Jesus more and on the world less, and as we seek Him more and seek His counsel instead of the counsel of this world, Jesus will direct our paths. Our evaluation of ourselves will become more honest, and we will see the ways in which we stumble in life and in the faith.
As mentioned in previous Proverbs writings, the true way is often the temperate or balanced way. When we go a little to the left or to the right, we are in sin. The degree of our sin depends on how far away from that proverbial “straight and narrow way” we traverse.
Here is an example:
Christians should dress modestly and with humility as a reflection of inner modesty and humility that is sincere. How do we accomplish this?
We might force ourselves to dress modestly and humbly through regulation in church, such as requiring women to refrain from pants and set a length requirement for skirts, dresses, and shirt sleeves.
We might ignore the importance of modest and humble dress and instead use liberty as a reason to look just like the world does, even when today’s fashion is overly revealing and everything but humble in appearance.
Do either of these methods speak to the heart of the person and allow the Spirit to convict an individual based on his or her conscience? Not really. What we should do is encourage modesty and humility of heart, and allow the Spirit to do His work.
Some might wear long skirts and refrain from pants. Some might wear shorts that cover more adequately than they used to. Some might refrain from makeup or tune it down a bit. Some might sell expensive jewelry and donate the money to the poor. In any case, it is best if what is done is done because of sincere conviction, not by law and regulation.
Here is why.
Consider the first group. A woman can refrain from all pants, wear long dresses only and long sleeves only, refrain from makeup, and still have a struggle with pride and immodesty within her heart. She can take pride in other forms of her beauty, such as her hair or some physical attribute of her face. She can take pride in being a better Christian than other women who do not adhere to her legalistic standard.
Consider the second group. A woman can dress with great liberty—even too much liberty—thereby turning liberty into sin. Because she believes in liberty without considering sin, her heart has become hardened. She does not see her pride, vanity, and immodesty as a problem. She looks at the first group of Christians and thinks they are weird and overly religious. She might mock them and feel superior to them.
Do you see what I am saying?
This applies to so much within the body of Christ. This applies to praise preferences, music, holidays, the sabbath day, consumption of food and alcohol, and even Christian doctrine. We can take Christian doctrine legalistically too—and we do. We even take the means of salvation legalistically through recital of certain prayers and water baptism.
Our ways become legalistic when the consider outward observances but neglect the inner issues of the heart—the very matters Jesus came to teach us of, heal us of, and strengthen us in by His Spirit.
That is why legalism is so deadly. Legalism creates an illusion of Christianity. Legalism creates and illusion of righteousness. Legalism—including a to-the-letter interpretation of scripture that neglects the spirit—creates an illusion of understanding and knowledge. Legalism breeds pride, strife, division, and complacency.
Legalism in all its forms is anti-Christian. It is of the Pharisees. It is of the children of Satan. It is of the paths of Hell—not the paths of life.
Do you hear what I am saying? Do you hear when I tell you that our churches are full of legalism? Do you see how that connects to Thyatira in Revelation? If not, leave a comment or send me a message. I’m happy to explain all this in greater detail or to discuss any Christian matter.
Call me crazy if you want to. Ignore me if you want to. I know what I say is true. I also know that the Lord is merciful, and He plans all things from the beginning. I also know that all things are working together for our good. We can learn from our mistakes. Many who are insincere in the faith are caught in their net. We do not need to be caught in the net of legalism. We do not need to go to the right or to the left of what Jesus has laid before us as the perfect way.
No person on this earth is perfect, but Jesus is perfect. The more we listen to Him and not man—even the men and women of the faith who would lead us to the right or to the left—the more we walk that path of perfection with Jesus alone.
What about myself? I know how incredibly easy it is to go too far to the right and too far to the left concerning all sorts of matters in this life and in the Christian faith. I’ve stumbled around so much over the course of my life—particularly over the past few years. It is hard to find the right way, but once found, it is not so hard to walk it. It is a relief.
“His burden is easy, and His yoke is light.” However, once found, we still misstep sometimes. Sometimes a slip turns into a slide or a fall. He will bring us back if we turn our hearts to Him consistently. I know this is true also, and I still stumble around because I know that there is always more to learn. If I’m still alive in the flesh, I still have more to learn.