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Daily Devotion of Proverbs 29
Are You Walking by Faith or By Sight?
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverb 29:18
Proverbs 29 mentions a weakness of all mankind. If proof of God is not seen, like a vision or a miracle, many will not believe there is a God, or that He is dealing with them. They are sight oriented. Man has to “see it, to believe it,” in most cases.
By nature, man is weak in faith in God. In Old Testament times, if there was no proof, the people’s “faith” in God disappeared. Most were reliant on the miracles of godly leaders, or God’s miracles. Living by sight, as were many in by-gone days, temporarily followed God. As soon as the “proof” was gone or forgotten, so was their “faith.”
There were some during the earlier times that did not constantly need proof of God’s presence or workings. They learned about God’s dealings with men from scriptural writings and what was said by the prophets and godly leaders. By faith, they believed and obeyed God’s commandments. They were not only faithful in following God’s desires, but they were contented and “happy.” Even in dark, frightening moments, their faith did not waver. Faith is essential to having a close, trusting walk with the Lord.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb. 11:6
That is why many of today’s forms of “Christianity” are not of God or are very weak in faith. They want to dwell by sight. They feel they are strong in the Lord after they experience speaking in tongues (an unlearned language), experience healing abilities, handle poisonous snakes, foretell the future happenings, and other miracles. Those “proofs” may not be of God in most cases, and according to the Word of God are not for this church age. God said when the perfect, preserved Bible (“that which is perfect is come” — I Cor. 13:8-10) was given to man, we are not to live any longer by sight and miracles. We are to live by faith.
“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” I Cor. 13:8
Too many are still relying on proof from God. He has given Jesus, The Saviour of mankind, to all who will believe and follow His recorded commandments. All we need to know and believe is between the preserved pages of the Bible. Believe, obey, and trust all He has said. Live by faith, not by sight.
he early church had one difficulty that we do not have today. Jesus had returned to Heaven and the remaining Christians had need of proof that what they were saying and doing was from the Lord. They did not have the entire Word of God as we do today, so God allowed them to perform miracles. These miracles made it quite evident that what they were saying and doing were endorsed by the Lord. Man could not do such miracles, and only God’s involvement could be the explanation for many of the supernatural occurrences.
As a sign for non-believers and believers, God allowed Christians of this time the ability to do several supernatural things. He gave different Christians some of the nine “sign gifts,” described in I Corinthians 12:3-11:
“… 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom (1); to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit (2); 9 To another faith by the same Spirit (3); to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit (4); 10 To another the working of miracles(5); to another prophecy(6); to another discerning of spirits(7); to another divers kinds of tongues(8); to another the interpretation of tongues(9): 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” I Cor. 12:3-11
Every saved person (“… every man to profit …”) at the time had at least one of these gifts. These gifts were not for their own selfish use, but to benefit the entire body of Christ. The gifts at that time were:
Word of wisdom: Very little of the Word of God was available to people of this time. The Jews only had the first five books of the Bible available to them. It was called the Torah, and because they were costly to produce, not every temple had the entire five books. Usually only the priest had access to them.
God wanted His people to have the wisdom of His Word so He gave them, perhaps without their even reading His written Word, the gift of having the wisdom of His Word. They had a spiritual insight into what the Word meant. This gift may have been similar to the gift of wisdom God gave to Bezaleel (Exodus 31:1-3), who was instrumental in building the Tabernacle, and Solomon (I King 4:29-30).
Word of knowledge: In the Greek, the word for knowledge (“gnosis”) is used as the knowledge learned from delving into science. These people had spiritual knowledge that they tested and learned from their investigation.
Faith: Not all had faith in the unseen. God gave some a special ability to live by faith, and trust that God would meet needs. This gift was surely an encouragement to those that did not have it.
Healing: Some had the ability to supernaturally heal people. What an encouragement and sign to unbelievers that God was alive and working in lives when one person was used to heal another. God certainly got the credit and attention when a person could not be healed by a doctor but was miraculously healed when God’s man was used to do the impossible.
Miracles: When a person of God was used to do the impossible, many turned and believed in Jesus. Many came to know Christ through the impossible deeds performed by the messenger of God that had the gift of miracles.
Prophecy: The entire Word of God was not available to believers of the early church. They had no way of knowing what would happen in the future. When one with the gift of knowing the future foretold what would happen, and that prophecy came true, many also became believers. They knew that it was only possible to know the future if God was behind the revelation.
“Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.” I Cor. 14:22
Discerning of Spirits: As today, there are many spirits active in everyday life. Some of the spirits are of God, and some are of Satanic origin. The person with this gift was able to tell if a person, situation, or belief was of God and could warn or encourage the people. This discerning gift was essential in directing and guiding God’s people.
Tongues. This gift was given so that people who never heard the good news of the Gospel could hear it in their own language, and could be saved. Only men had this gift (I Cor. 14:34). Although these men never learned the language, by the power from the Holy Spirit they could speak a foreign-to-them language to someone visiting the church service, that spoke a different language and tell that person what the preacher had said or about the things of God. People heard the Gospel that never heard it before, and multitudes were saved when this gift was exercised.
“In the law it is written [It was prophesied in Isa. 28:11], With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.” I Cor. 14:21-22
I remember being a young Christian and talking to a man that was involved in the tongue’s movement. I asked him about the “language”, and he produced a book that was titled How to Speak in Tongues. That immediately made me wonder if God was involved in his tongue speaking. If God was using a man to speak in another “unlearned” language, the person certainly would not need a how-to-do book.
“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” Mark 16:17-19 Jesus even prophesied that the sign gifts would be given to men
“And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:3-11 Tongues in verse there means “languages”. The church at Pentecost had the gifts of tongues, and many heard God’s message in their own language.
As the man spoke, it was in an unknown language to the speaker, but God knew what it meant as did the visitors that heard God’s message in their own tongue. It was also not the most important gift, as many even today try to make it out to be.
“For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. … 4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.” I Cor. 14:2
Interpreting: Tongues had a purpose and that was so those in the service could hear the Gospel in their own language. For the others in the service, it was required to have an interpreter, or they may think the person was “mad”. Some had the gift of interpreting what another was saying.
“If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?” I Cor. 14:23 An interpreter was needed so all knew was being said in the strange tongue.
“If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.” I Cor. 14:27 I have been to several churches and have heard people supposedly speaking in tongues, but I have never once heard an interpreter. I also have never seen one speaking in “tongues” talk in a language that a foreigner understood.
Some could interpret what they had said in an unknown-to-others language: “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.” I Cor. 14:13
These gifts would one day “fail”, or be taken away, from Christians. They were only temporary. They would not always be needed.
“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” I Cor. 13:8-10
I Corinthians 13:8-10 states that three of the gifts, prophecy, knowledge, and speaking in tongues, would cease. They would stop “… when that which is perfect is come …” Some quickly assume that that which is “perfect” is Jesus. It is not He that is being spoken of, as this Scripture was written about 60 years after Jesus returned to heaven. Jesus had already come, so it is not He that this verse is speaking of.
In the Greek, “that which is perfect is come” is “teleios”, which is the neuter form of “complete”. That which would one day come that would change everything was neither male or female, so it is not referring to a person. This “thing” would also complete everything that they had had to rely on by sight.
At the time the early Christians only partially knew God’s will and way (I Cor. 13:9), and the partial knowledge they had would be removed (I Cor. 13:10b). Also, the “thing” they had was only because they were baby Christians (I Cor. 13:11), that had to see, feel, experience something so that they would believe. God wanted them to grow up and trust Him by faith, not by sight.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb. 11:6
The “thing” that would change everything would be the entire Word of God. When the Bible would be compiled many years later, they would know all God wanted them to see, know, and experience. God knew it was important that they have “signs” of His involvement, so He would never remove something of importance that He would not supply another way. They would no longer have to know God’s will by sight, but they would live by faith (I Cor. 13:13). Today we have all the Word of God He ever wants us to have. It is does not need to be changed or added to, as some have done. We no longer see God’s will and way unclearly, and partially (I Cor. 13:12) as did the early church. We have it all. We know all He wants us to know — if we will only read and believe what He has preserved.
When the Church had access to the complete Word of God, there would no longer be a need for the gifts God prophesied He would remove. Prophecy, as the early church knew the gift, would not be needed as the complete Word of God would tell mankind all he would need to know about the future. The gift of knowledge would not be needed as the Bible contains all the knowledge about spiritual things man would ever need. Speaking in tongues also is no longer needed today, as God either uses the Word of God that is in various languages, or He raises up those that can teach His Word in the language spoken by the people He sends His messengers to.
Some, however, ignore what the Scripture teaches and still try to practice these gifts today. It surprises me that they try to duplicate what the most rebuked, worldly church in the Bible , the church of Corinth, did. It makes me wonder why anyone would to go against what the Bible teaches, and most importantly, not live by faith, which is the only way to please God.
God handles different times of man and church-ages differently. God had different commandments for Adam and Eve to obey. God treated those of Abraham’s time differently than they He does today. The people of Moses’ day sacrificed to God. We do not do that today. God treated the early church differently than He does those today. The gifts of the early church are not the same that He has for those of this church dispensation. Tongues, along with the other “sign” gifts, are not for the church of today! We are to live by faith, and not sight!
“It is not faith and works; it is not faith or works; it is faith that works.” — Author Unknown
Words to Understand:
Bewrayeth: make visible; show
Reproved: corrected; rebuked
Scornful: despiteful; extremely disliked
1 ¶ He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
2 ¶ When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
3 ¶ Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.
4 ¶ The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.
5 ¶ A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.
6 ¶ In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.
7 ¶ The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
8 ¶ Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.
9 ¶ If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.
10 ¶ The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.
11 ¶ A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
12 ¶ If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.
13 ¶ The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.
14 ¶ The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.
15 ¶ The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
16 ¶ When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.
17 ¶ Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
18 ¶ Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
19 ¶ A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.
20 ¶ Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
21 ¶ He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.
22 ¶ An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.
23 ¶ A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
24 ¶ Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.
25 ¶ The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
26 ¶ Many seek the ruler’s favour; but every man’s judgment cometh from the LORD.
27 ¶ An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.