Proverbs 4:14-15 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
There's a story I heard about a stagecoach transportation company in the Old West that was looking for a new driver. This particular path that the stagecoach route would take them through was a mountain pass on a road that narrowed very close to the edge of the mountain. They interviewed several potential candidates for the position. They asked them this question, “How close do you think you can get to the edge and still safely navigate?” One driver said, “I can get about a foot from that edge and still make it.” Another driver said, “I can get to about 6 inches from the edge and still safely get through.” The last driver remarked, “I would stay as far away from that edge as I possibly can.” He got the job.
The book of Proverbs is the book of wisdom. It is written in the sense of a father speaking the truth of wisdom to his son. The purpose is to help him traverse the path of life in a wise and righteous manner without falling prey to the various sins that would destroy him. The wise man is the one who will heed Proverbs and all of Scripture’s truths and make them a part of his life. That is truly what wisdom is, the ability to successfully apply and live the righteous truth of God's Word.
Salvation provided us with positional righteousness. The righteousness of Christ was transferred to our account and our eternal standing or position before God is righteous. But there is a second righteousness that we are to incorporate in our lives, and that is a practical righteousness. The righteousness which we experienced eternally through Christ, we should practice externally as we live on this earth. Our eternal righteousness is salvation. Our external righteousness is sanctification. It’s the day by day practical living of God’s truth.
There are two definitions of sanctification I have heard over the years which I think are best. The first is this, “Sanctification is the process by which I become more like Christ and less like the world.” The second is, “Sanctification is when I become more in my practice what I am in my position.” The greater point is that salvation makes a difference in our life. As we travel the path of our life we are to do so in a righteous way. That means we will have to live successfully over sin. That means we will have to make decisions to live right and have victory over temptation.
If the path we take in life is to be a righteous one, what is a good plan to help us to do that successfully? Solomon lays one out here. In the first part of chapter four he admonishes his son to strive for obedience, and to incorporate wisdom. That includes avoiding those who would keep you from obedience in wisdom. And that is the point. The best plan to obtain righteousness is to avoid anything that would keep you from righteousness. Far too often we like to see just how close we can get to the edge and still not go over, when the better plan is to stay as far away from the edge as we possibly can.
The Christian life is a battle no doubt, and we must be willing to fight it. The Christian life is a struggle to be spiritual, and we must be willing to face that struggle to be spiritual. But let us not have a spiritual macho mentality that we are strong enough to fight sin when we don’t need to. The majority of sin that we fight is the result of the simple fact that we did not take steps to avoid it. Yes, there will be times when we will have to face it head on. Yes, temptations will come. But the vast majority of our problems are self-inflicted and occur when we don't veer away from that which is wrong but place ourselves directly in its path. The best plan for righteous living is avoidance.
Do we have an emotional relationship and yet move on quickly, or are we concentrated and stick it out through good times and bad?
Often it seems our circumstances pause the dream. and as dreamers we get discouraged.