What is the Biblical definition of sin? I John 3:4 – “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” So sin makes itself known in outward ways. We might say that specific sins originate in the heart, but isn’t it true that we can sin with our eyes? Don’t our lips sin when we utter a lie or we spread gossip? If we pull a grape off a vine in the grocery store, popping it into our mouths haven’t our hands sinned by stealing?
This may be a silly question, but is there any part of our body which CANNOT sin? Can our belly button sin? What if we expose our belly button to the eyes of strangers? Can our ear lobes sin? We know our ears can sin by willing listening to wicked words. But can our ear lobes sin? What if there are 1″ tall swastika stuck in each of them? Is it possible for our shoulders to sin? What if they are leaning on a tree when they should be swinging an ax or raising a shovel? And what about our bottoms? Isn’t it a sin when we should be working, we are sitting – especially sitting on our hands? I don’t think we have to stretch our imaginations very far to come up with sins that just about any external part of our body might commit.
Of course, from time to time, the Bible refers to some of the more prominent aspects body parts. And that is what we find here at the conclusion of Proverbs 4. Solomon refers to our hearts, mouths, lips, eyes and feet.
What are some of the sins found in these parts of our anatomies?
“Put away from thee a froward mouth.” What is it to be “froward?” The word is found 19 times in the Old Testament and once in the New. Of those 19 verses, there are 5 distinct original words. This one is found in Proverbs 6:12 as well as here, and it refers to “perversity.” Unfortunately, “perversity” is almost as foreign to modern vocabulary as “froward.” Google defines “perverse” as “showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.” And it defines “froward” as “difficult to deal with; contrary.” What Solomon is saying is, “Son, stop arguing with me and believe what I am telling you.” “Stop your bickering and do what you are told.” In other words, a froward mouth is the outer expression of a rebellious heart. Every parent hates it in his child, and God our Father hates it in us.
Put far from thee “perverse lips” – which is a little different from the first statement. Perhaps this is easy to understand, but not always easy to implement and obey. Literally, perverse lips are crooked, but the meaning is deceitful, lying lips. The Indians proverbially would say, “White man speaks with forked tongue” – with lying, double meanings. Chapter 6 tells us that one of the 7 things which God hates above all other things – is a lying tongue.
He also condemns “wandering eyes.” “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” A few weeks ago a 90% solar eclipse crossed our morning sky. I was driving home to Post Falls, with the sun at about my 2 o’clock. I know all the warnings against looking at the sun, even in full eclipse. But it was tempting, very tempting to sneak a brief, almost instantaneous look at the sun. It would have been foolishness. But it may be even more foolish to watch certain wicked TV shows, internet websites or pornography. When we are surrounded by wicked temptations, an eye focused on the face of Christ Jesus is important – it may be essential in many ways. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” How many thousands of Christian young men have been blinded by staring at the wrong woman? How many Christian young women have been blinded by reading popular fashion magazines?
Keep your eyes on the godly path – the straight and narrow way – and walk therein. “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” Flying back from Lexington, I sat next to a young man who had lived in Sandpoint, but who now resides outside of Homer, Alaska. He is a very good amateur photographer, and his phone was filled with his excellent work. I think I surprised him, when he’d show me a picture and I could tell him when it was the Turn Again Arm or a picture of Lake Pend O’rielle, or it was from back east somewhere. One of his beautiful pictures was of a narrow boardwalk slightly elevated over lush beds of ferns somewhere in Alaska. One mis-step and the hiker would be plunged into the underbrush, not hurting himself, but crushing a blanket of ferns. The Lord has a path for us to follow and of necessity it is extremely narrow, requiring diligence.
And with that we come to more of God’s positive rules about the use of our bodies.
When you know the right path, stick to it. “Ponder the path of thy feet, and (thus) let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” What does the word “ponder” mean? It means “consider” or “give diligence.” We can’t afford to leave our feet unguided, because surrounding us and below us are dens of spiritual snakes and alligators. Joshua, “Be thou strong and very courageous … turn not … to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.”
And if your foot gets into the mud, pull it out as quickly as you can, because it is more like quicksand than a simple mud puddle – “Remove thy foot from evil.” “And let all thy ways be established” – let them be firm – yea, even set in stone. Let’s say that in order to get from the library to your home, you must walk passed a tavern. Even on the hottest day of the year, your foot shouldn’t even imagine walking inside that place. It should be an established principle that your feet will not enter the strip joint or the joint joint. There should be a cooperation between your heart and God’s – that “all thy ways are established.” The Lord has established rules and standards, and we, as well, must re-establish them in our lives.
Verse 25 – focus. “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” You don’t need to look through the window of that pot store or that tavern; nothing good can come of that glance. We should make it our prayer, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” The Lord Jesus said, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Don’t be deliberately looking at evil things.
Verse 24 reminds us to purpose to fill our mouths with excellent words and phrases. Perhaps the most disheartening moment last week, was while I was watching one of the men of the Bryan Station Church, working with some electronic equipment. The machine malfunctioned, and before the man could check himself he muttered “Holy (blank).” I have heard members of this church and members of your families say the same thing. Some may think of this as nothing, but before the ears of a lost man, such words bring the name of our Saviour to shame. And I believe that the Lord hates language like that. We need to learn, memorize, practice and implant in our hearts words of praise to God. We need to practice words of encouragement to other believers. When we fill ourselves with righteous thoughts and words, there will be less room for wickedness. We need to train every part of our bodies to glorify our Saviour and to bless others.
And, of course, at the root of our physical life and body lays our heart and soul. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Yes, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” But when we have been born again, regenerated, a divine ally enters that heart, giving it the opportunity for victory. It is an opportunity for victory, but no guarantee. We must “Keep (our) heart with all diligence…” “Quench not the Spirit,” “and grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Without a doubt our bodies have been corrupted by the fall; they have a propensity for sin. But “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” And we “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth” us – even to the godly control of our bodies.