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Living life the hard way

Proverbs 22:5-

  "Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse, he who guards his soul will be far from them.”

Life does not have to be hard. It is a deception of the enemy to assume that everyday has to be a struggle. Jesus came to give us life abundantly and the Amplified translation says that He came so that we “might have and enjoy our lives”. Ecclesiastes 3:13 says that it is a gift from God that men eat, drink and enjoy the good of all of their labor. The study verse gives a very clear picture that thorns, and snares should only be in the life of the perverse. “Perverse” is the root word of “pervert”. Although we dominantly think of the noun version of the word overt, that is not what we are discussing here overtly. Here let us examine the word pervert as a verb. To pervert is the action that is born out of a perverse heart or mind. The word translated here in Proverbs 22:5 as “perverse” is the Hebrew word #6141 “iqqesh” and it means to twist, distort, and pervert. It is having the truth but finding a “loop hole” in it to get what you want. For example, the Bible tells us not to be drunk with wine. I have heard people quote that verse and then say something like; “That’s fine, I’ll be drunk with beer or margaritas!” This is perverting the word so that they can do what they really want to do. {Incidentally, the spirit of the command is not to be drunk at all on any substance including what we would call drugs}. The heart of someone who says something like that -even in their own heart- is that they are looking for a “technicality” to disobey God because they see Him as a dictator control freak and not someone who loves them and wants what is best for them. In general these mindsets are caused by a lack of relationship with God. That is not to say that these people are not saved, but that they do not value and therefore foster their relationship with the Lord - it just doesn’t mean that much to them. What happens is this “perversion” of the Word brings forth snares and thorns. These snares and thorns can of course be literal, but in context, they are referring to situations that bring pain, discomfort, destruction, unrest, etc. In Numbers 33:55, God told the children of Israel if they did not obey Him and get rid of the inhabitants of the land of Canaan then those inhabitants would become thorns in their sides. The children of Israel were unwilling to fully obey God and eradicated the Canaan inhabitants as prescribed by God and so they did become the source of all of their troubles. When the Word of God is perverted to suit the desires of oneself, then thorns will follow. Further, once in the midst of an abundance of thorns, ones completely trapped! They have been, in effect snared. If you think about a thorn bush, if someone were foolish enough to walk directly into the bush and lodge themselves in the center of the bush then if they try to escape, their way will be, at the least, painful if not impossible altogether. 

    This is the picture we must remember when we are tempted to pervert the Word in order to “get around” what God told or tells us. So how do we stay clear of thorns and snares? The second half of the verse explains that in order to do that, we must guard our soul with all diligence. The human soul is comprised of the mind, will, and emotions. It is where the “flesh” lives, where our beliefs live, our feelings, our “hearts”. Proverbs 21:23 tells us that if we keep our mouth and tongue from misbehaving, then we will ”keep” our soul. For a moment, please consider the path of a word expelled from the tongue and mouth. First and foremost, there has to be an intake of information. The human reads, sees, experiences, or hears something- this is the seed- be it good or bad. Then that “seed” roots itself into the mind of the human for future harvest. Then there comes an opportunity to harvest the fruit of that seed. This opportunity can range from a similar situational experience, to a desire to express oneself. Then the fruit that was planted originally as the seed will come out of the person’s mouth. They will say what they heard, saw, read, or experienced. The problem with this is that once the seed has been accepted into the heart, then the fruit that it produces is actually a belief. Jesus said that not that we would have whatever we say, but that we would have whatever we believe and then say. {Mark 11:23}. so what is the remedy, or more accurately, what is the prevention? The answer to that lies in the taking of the seed. When we read, see, hear or experience anything, anything at all, we must be diligent to analyze it against the Word of God. This action, therefore, requires us to be in constant contact with the Holy One and His Word. We must, moment by moment take every single thought captive and examine it for validity but we will err in our assessment of thoughts if we do not know the heart of God as revealed by His Spirit. 

    I personally avoid watching or even listening to commercials, I, as a rule, do not watch the news, I do not read stories in the newspaper, I do not listen to public radio, I avoid fools and people who pervert the gospel. It is a conscience choice and effort daily to remain ignorant of what is evil and wise concerning good, but it is more than possible. I no longer engage in social media scrolling either. As well, when something does slip through the cracks of my ears, eyes, or experiences, I immediately go to God and find out what He has to say about the situation. That may involve reading the Word, searching the word for the topic, praying and listening to God tell me. The end result is always the same, however, no matter the way in which I reach it- I speak out loud the Word of God against the seed and it does not take root. I am so aggressive in guarding my soul that even when I sneeze or cough, I rebuke it immediately!! 

    This is the only way to find clear passage through life to the abundant life that was promised to us through Jesus Christ- we absolutely must guard our minds, wills, and emotions at all costs so that they always line up with the heart of God. 

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