Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses Proverbs 5:22-23, Proverbs 1:10-19, Proverbs 26:14-15, Proverbs 20:1, Proverbs 23:29-35, Proverbs 6:26-29, Proverbs 6:32-35, Proverbs 7:21-27 Downloads & Resources Seeing Reality Dr. Jon Morrissette - 2/1/2004 Back in the 1980's, Neil Postman published a book titled Amusing Ourselves to Death. The premise of the book is that spoonful by spoonful, television is numbing our minds and is conditioning us to tolerate visually entertaining material that is utterly devoid of reason and common sense. The drama of television seduces us. The fast action mesmerizes us. The news ticker captivates us. The beautiful faces charm us. The surround sound hypnotizes us. The laugh tracks prompt us to be amused by such things as perverse speech, sexual innuendo, swearing, vanity, arrogance, incivility, disrespect, lying, cheating, selfishness, adultery, divorce, homosexuality, pornography, promiscuity, gluttony, laziness, crime, drug use, greed, and other social ills. Television doesn’t provide any good context for our behaviors and beliefs. Television continually lies to us. It deceives us by not offering the complete picture. Television fails to connect the dots of reality. It divorces cause from effect. It dissociates choices from consequences. It disconnects the present from the future. The latest rage is reality television. We want our reality television in high definition color, on demand, without all the static and flicker, and without commercial interruption. Reality television is an oxymoron. Television is devoid of reality and truth. If you want reality, don’t turn on television. Reality is not found there. Our one-dimensional, twenty-five inch television screens cannot reveal the three dimensional impact our behavior is having on our souls, our hearts, our bodies, our minds, our families, our friends, our workplaces, our futures, our eternal destinies, and especially on our relationships with God. Television amuses us as we naively skip down the broad path leading to destruction. It isn’t a very good teacher. Proverbs shows us God's reality. This morning God offers the simple invitation to stop looking at the manufactured, filtered reality of television. Instead, he invites us to start opening our eyes and begin seeing reality as he sees it. The book of Proverbs invites us to take the blinders off. Turn off the lies. Deprogram the laugh the tracks. Re-sensitize your mind. Embrace reason and common sense. Reconnect cause and effect, the present and the future, choices and consequences. Carefully consider the three dimensional impact of our beliefs and behaviors. Discern the path we walk. Reconsider our ways. Measure our steps. Weigh our choices. Fear God. Love wisdom. Shun evil. Stop amusing ourselves to death with the lies and false promises of sin. A godless lifestyle is a lifestyle of lost life. Death seems like a rather dramatic way to frame up our discussion. Yet, what is death? Death is the absence of life. Death is the loss of life. Death is the end of being alive. In the book of Proverbs death stands in stark contrast to the life God wants us to live. In Proverbs the fear of God leads to life, but the absence of God leads to death. The godless lifestyle is a lifestyle of lost life. It is beginning of the end and it leads to death. Proverbs 5:22-23 (NIV) says, "The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly." Let’s spend a few moments talking about reality. Reality is Proverbs 5:22. God warns us about how our sinful choices ensnare us. They entangle us. They entrap us. Have you ever told a lie before? Did someone just whisper, "no", under his breath? I remember lying to my parents growing up. I would lie to cover up my trail. I would lie to save my skin. I’d lie to save face. I would lie for the sake of lying. I remember how in time, those lies would circle around and entrap me. My parents would eventually figure things out and confront me with the truth. In the end I always ended up in a bigger mess than if I’d told the truth the first time. Like a boomerang, our sins circle around and eventually ensnare us. They catch us. Proverbs 5:22 describes how the cords of sin, "hold us fast." Before we know it we cannot break free. Freedom is lost. Our quality of life is gone. Our sin imprisons us. Can you think of an example in your life in which the cords of sin became wrapped so tightly around your life that you struggled to break free? Rush Limbaugh has been making the news lately. As you may know, he spent over a month in rehabilitation trying to break his addiction to pain medications. He allegedly conspired with his maid, his doctors, and others to illegally acquire the drugs. Not only has his reputation been permanently scarred, doctors believe his permanent hearing loss is a direct side effect of his addiction to painkillers. He is also being subjected to an investigation and possible jail time. His sins circled around and ensnared him. They are like unbreakable cords, restricting his quality of life. Thus, the old adage is proved true. Crime (sin) never pays! We die because of a lack of discipline. The reality, according to Proverbs 5:22 is that we die for lack of discipline. When we go the way of sin, we die. When we are led astray by sheer foolishness, we die. In real life, foolishness isn’t so amusing. Foolishness always leads to death. In a moment, we will explore some of the evidence of this fact. The skeptic believes that Proverbs 5:22 is nonsense. "You’re exaggerating," he objects, "You’re just thumping your Bible again. Sin doesn’t lead to death. Sin is fun. Sin is exhilarating! Sin is the very essence of freedom. Eat, drink and be merry." But for the skeptics among us Proverbs offers a dose of reality and a reasonable challenge. Proverbs puts the burden of proof on the one advocating sin. Proverbs invites the fool to build his or her case against righteousness and morality. If sin doesn’t lead to death, prove it! Go on, extol the benefits of sin. What are the benefits? How does sin improve our quality of life? How does sin add length to one’s life? How does sin prosper us? How does sin enhance life’s relationships? How does sin build stronger families, workplaces, communities, marriages and lives? The fool thumbs his nose at Proverbs and believes he can prove God’s wisdom wrong. The fool believes he will be the exception, that he can beat the system. But Proverbs doesn’t allow us to lie our way through life. It forces us to look at reality. Here is where your choices will lead. Here are the consequences. Here is the disaster that awaits you if you continue down that path. Is the person who can't control his tongue really living fully? Last week we discovered how the tongue has the power of life and death. The tongue can be used to make false promises and false accusations. The tongue can lie, speak perverse words, seduce, deceive, gossip, and divide. The tongue can utter careless, hurtful, godless, bloodthirsty, angry, reckless, inciting, arrogant, harsh, spirit-crushing, quarrelsome words. When the tongue is misused in this way it wreaks havoc on life’s relationships. We have all seen first-hand how the tongue can literally destroy people. "You’re a failure." "You’ll never amount to anything." "You’re a joke." "No one cares about you." "You’re incompetent." "I hate you." "I wish you’d die." But we also know how the tongue can bring life and healing into people’s lives. "I love you." "I’m proud of you." "You mean so much to me." "I forgive you." "I support you." "I was wrong." "I care about you." "Let's fix this problem." "Help me understand." Is the criminal living life God's way? Those who do not control their tongues live miserable lives. That’s a fact. That’s reality! But this is just the beginning. Consider what Proverbs says about the way of the criminal. Proverbs 1:10-19 (NIV) says, "My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, 'Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood, let’s waylay some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse.' — my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood. How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds! These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves! Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it." Our prisons are full of people who thought they were the exception. I have a close family member who is incarcerated. He has spent his entire adult life stealing, breaking into vehicles and homes searching for valuables, trying to get rich quick. He is almost forty years old and wasting away in prison. He has no close friends. He has virtually no possessions. He has a record a mile long. He lives in constant fear that his crimes will find him out. He has debt and unresolved charges looming over his head. He cannot walk down the street without looking over his shoulder. His anxiety level is so high, doctors told him that if he doesn’t change his lifestyle he will die by the age of forty. He has dramatically shortened his life by his choices. Now let me ask, how is that living? Is the Sluggard Really Enjoying Life? The book of Proverbs has much to say about the way of the sluggard. The sluggard is lazy. He lies around all day long, never getting up from his sleep. He folds his hands across his chest to rest. His hands refuse to work. His vineyard is overgrown with weeds and thorns. His stone wall lays in ruin. He craves all day long, but is never satisfied. His relatives shun him. His friends avoid him. He pursues them with pleading, but they are no where to be found. Proverbs 26:14-15 (NIV) says, "As a door turns on its hinges, so the sluggard turns on his bed. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth." The sluggard is a slug. He leaches. In the end, he plummets into poverty and has nothing. I watched a television special where some lady was confined to her bed because of obesity. All day long people brought her food and drink. It took all the energy she could muster to get out of bed and use the bathroom. She was so large that she couldn’t leave her bedroom. She literally could not fit through the door frame. In the end, they had to remove a wall on the side her house and lift her out with a hoist. That is an extreme example, but tell me, is the sluggard really living? Is the debtor living life God's way? The Proverbs speaks of the debtor who amasses great death buying things for which he has no money to pay. He strikes his hand in a pledge and mortgages his security, knowing full well that he lacks the means to pay. In the end, his bed is snatched up from under him. The borrower becomes slave to his lender. Are greedy, miserly people truly happy? Or take the greedy, who are so consumed with making money that they will do virtually anything to get more. They compromise their integrity. They pursue dishonest gain. They exploit the poor. They crush the needy. They rob their families of the simplest pleasures in order to pinch the penny. They wear out their bodies with excessive work. I have known of people who have worked hard their entire lives, sacrificing pleasure, sacrificing family time, missing out on life, only to die shortly after retirement. Their love for money squeezed every ounce of life out of their body. How does excessive debt or greed enhance life? Are persons with addictive behaviors productive members of God's kingdom on earth? The Proverbs speak of the alcoholic, who spends his life staring at the bottom of the bottle. He drinks his wealth away. He drinks to escape the pressures of life, but misses its joys. He surrenders all self-control and forfeits all dignity. He becomes uncontrollable and even violent. Proverbs 20:1 (NIV) says, "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise." Proverbs 23:29-35 (NIV) warns, "Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 'They hit me,' you will say, 'but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?" Drunkenness doesn’t unlock deeper life! It destroys life. It ruins us. It lies at the root of much poverty, crime, rape, domestic violence, divorce, and brokenness. In fact, all addictive behaviors enslave-- whether it concerns tobacco, alcohol, crystal meth, marijuana, cocaine, or glue. Such abuses destroy the mind and destroy life. Nothing good comes from any of these things. The emptiness of sexual immorality. I want to conclude with one final example from Proverbs. One area of major distortion in our culture concerns our sexuality. Proverbs speaks of the adulteress, the wayward wife with her seductive words. That woman who forsakes her marriage vows and ignores her covenant with God. She makes false promises and has nothing to offer but the illusion of intimacy. Her lips drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil. She captivates with her eyes and draws you in with her beauty. She perfumes her bed and covers it with fresh linens. She knows all the tricks. In reality, however, she is full of hatred and bitterness. Her tongue is a double-edged sword with which she promises life but delivers death. She gives no thought to her way of life. Her paths are crooked. She is reckless and irresponsible. The steps of her home lead straight to the grave. She robs you of wealth. She is cruel and full of evil intentions. Proverbs 6:26-29 (NIV) says, "The prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished." Proverbs 6:32-35 (NIV) continues, "But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away; for jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse the bribe, however great it is." Proverbs 7:21-27 (NIV) says, "With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death." Reality check. There is no life in sexual immorality. There is shame. There is guilt. There is brokenness. There is false intimacy. There are false promises. There is evil intent. There are sexually transmitted diseases. There is financial ruin and hardship. There is seething rage in the one betrayed. There is unwanted pregnancy. There is aborted life. There isn’t anything good. Proverbs 5:22 (NIV) states the reality. "The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly." There is a way that seems right to a man, an uncontrolled tongue, a life of crime, laziness, amassing debt, greediness, alcoholism, addictive behavior, and sexual immorality. But in the end, it leads to death. Only the way of God leads to life. Only the way of God frees us from the snare and cords of sin. Only the way of God delivers us from foolishness.