Summary: This sermon on Proverbs 2 is divided into three points: each point comes from the first word of the new section - If . . . For . . . Then, i.e., conditional challenge, terms of reason and results.
IF . . . FOR . . . THEN
This sermon on Proverbs 2 is divided into three points; each point comes from the first word of the new section. “IF” (verse 1) is conditional, including conditional challenges, similar to those a parent might say to a child. “If you finish your vegetables, you can watch television.”
“FOR” (verse 6) is a term of reason. This word “FOR” is similar to “BECAUSE” or “WHAT.” The second part of my outline deals with “what the Lord will do for those who keep His conditions.”
“THEN” is the third word. It deals with results or is a summary term. First, we must keep the conditions; second, here are the reasons God wants us to obey; third, deals with results. This is what will happen to us.
I. FIRST SECTION
A. WHY A FATHER USES “IF” WITH HIS SON.
God treats his believers similar to the way a father treats his son: both want the son to obey from the heart. Both want the son to learn lessons. God does not force us to obey; we have a will and God wants us to love and obey Him from the heart. If God forced us to love and worship Him, it would not be love, nor would the worship mean anything.
B. THREE STEPS TO WILLING OBEDIENCE.
1. FIRST STEP - SURRENDER:
“Receive My words” (verse 1). This (“receive My words”) means we must “yield” and submit to our Father/God. We must first surrender our selfish way and learn to deny our selfish inclination. When a soldier surrenders, he stops fighting. Remember, Jesus said, “Deny self” (Luke 9:23).
In the wars between Athens and Sparta, Athens always had the larger number of soldiers, and Sparta always had well-trained soldiers. We get the word “Spartan” from those who are disciplined, devoted and deny self. When the Athenians had them surrounded, they sent a note, asking for their surrender. “If we capture your city, we will burn your homes, rape your women, and destroy everyone of you.”
The captain of the Spartans got the note and read it to his men. It was the best prep talk for soldiers to make them fight. Then the captain of the Spartans sent back another note to the Athenians with just one word . . . “IF.” God sends us a note, “IF you will receive my words . . .”
2. SECOND STEP - MOVE TOWARD GOD:
“Apply thine heart to understanding” (verse 2). This word “apply” means to “point.” It is not enough to receive God’s Word, we must turn towards God’s Word. When someone speaks to you, do you keep walking, or do you stop and face them? It is the polite thing to turn and face the person that’s talking to you. After you take STEP 1 to receive God’s Word, you must take STEP 2 and face God’s Word and listen to it.
3. THIRD STEP - APPLY GOD’S WORD (verse 2):
The Hebrew word apply means “to bend.” Today, many people bend the Word of God to their lifestyle, but the opposite must happen. We must bend our lifestyle to the Word of God.
Evan Roberts, the one humanly responsible for the great revival in Wales at the beginning of this century, was told by his mentor that to have revival, he must bend his life to God. Evan Roberts tried to do it, but nothing happened. His repentance was of the flesh, i.e., self-reformation. In a crucial point in a revival meeting, he stood and began praying aloud, over and over, “bend me . . . bend me . . . bend me . . .” that’s when the revival broke. Because Evan Roberts allowed God to bend him, that revival influenced all of Wales and ultimately the world.