"By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil." — Proverbs 16:6
There is a very close and intimate connection between godly fear and being holy in all manner of life. When do we drop into levity of conversation? When do light and frothy words fall from our lips? When do any of those hasty bursts of temper, or those fretful expressions, or that mere carnal, worldly talk to which we are naturally prone, hover upon our lips and break forth, more or less unguardedly, from our tongue? Is it not when this godly fear is not flowing its streams as a fountain of life, to well water the soul and soften it into humility and love, and is not springing up in wholesome checks and godly admonitions to keep the tongue as with a bridle and to rule that little member which, though so little, if untamed, defiles the whole body?
But if this godly fear be in exercise, it will restrain that levity of speech which not only grieves and wounds our own conscience, but is often a stumbling-block to the world, a bad example to the family of God, and a weapon in the hands of Satan to bring death into their soul. We should do well to ponder over those words of the Apostle, and to carry them with us when we are brought into conversation with others in the daily walks of life—"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." ( Ephesians 4:29-30)
"In the light of the king"s countenance is life; and his favor is as a cloud of the latter rain." Proverbs 16:15
What is religion without a living faith in, and a living love to the Lord Jesus Christ? How dull and dragging, how dry and heavy, what a burden to the mind, and a weariness to the flesh, is a "round of forms" where the heart is not engaged and the affections not drawn forth! Reading, hearing, praying, meditation, conversation with the saints of God, what cold, what heartless work where Jesus is not! But let him appear, let his presence and grace be felt, and his blessed Spirit move upon the heart, then there is a holy sweetness, a sacred blessedness in the worship of God and in communion with the Lord Jesus that makes, while it lasts, a little heaven on earth.
It is this inward sense of the blessedness of his presence and the misery of his absence, the heaven of his smile and the hell of his frown, that makes the sheep of Christ seek communion with him. He has won their heart to himself by discovering to them his beauty and his love, and they having once seen the glory of his Person, heard the sweetness of his voice, and tasted the grace of his lips, follow him wherever he goes, seeking to know him and the power of his resurrection, and counting all things rubbish and loss that they may win him, and have some manifestation of his love.
What is to support the soul under those trials and temptations that at times press it so sore, relieve those cruel doubts which so disquiet, take away those fears of death which so alarm, subdue that rebelliousness which so condemns, wean from the world which so allures, and make it look beyond life and time, the cares of the passing hour, and the events of the fleeting day, to a solemn and blessed eternity, but those visitations of the blessed Lord to the soul which give it communion with himself? Thus were the saints of God led and taught in days of old, as the Holy Spirit has recorded their experience in the word of truth. Remembering the past, one says, "Your visitation has preserved my spirit." Longing for a renewal, another cries, "O when will you come unto me?" and under the enjoyment of his presence the Church speaks, "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love."
"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit than he that takes a city." Proverbs 16:32
What a foe to one"s peace is one"s own spirit! And what shall I call it? It is often an infernal spirit. Why? Because it bears the mark of Satan upon it. The pride of our spirit, the presumption of our spirit, the hypocrisy of our spirit, the intense selfishness of our spirit are often hidden from us. This wily devil, SELF, can wear such masks and assume such forms; this serpent, SELF, can so creep and crawl, can so twist and turn, and can disguise itself under such false appearances, that it is hidden often from ourselves.
Who is the greatest enemy we have to fear? We all have our enemies. But who is our greatest enemy? He that you carry in your own bosom; your daily, hourly, and momently companion, that entwines himself in nearly every thought of your heart; that suggests well near every motive; that sometimes puffs up with pride, sometimes inflames with lust, sometimes inflates with presumption, and sometimes works under feigned humility and fleshly holiness.
Now this SELF must be overcome; for if SELF overcomes us eventually, we shall perish in the condemnation of SELF. God is determined to stain the pride of human glory. He will never let self, (which is but another word for the creature,) wear the crown of victory. It must be crucified, denied, and mortified; it must be put off, so that Jesus may be put on; that in the denying of SELF, Jesus may be believed in; and that in the crucifixion of SELF, there may be a solemn spiritual union with Him who was crucified on Calvary.
Now, are we overcoming SELF? Are we buffeted? What says SELF? "Buffet back." Are we despised? What says SELF? "Despise back; retort angry look for angry look, and hasty word, for hasty word; an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." But what says the Spirit of God in a tender conscience? "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
The way to overcome self is by looking out of self to Him who was crucified upon Calvary"s tree; to receive his image into our heart; to be clothed with his likeness; to drink into his spirit; and "receive out of his fullness grace for grace."
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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Proverbs 16". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/
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