SBTS chapel live blog: Dan Dumas – Proverbs 1:20-33

Communications Staff — March 9, 2010

Preacher: Dan Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern Seminary

Text/title: Proverbs 1:20-33 — The Dangers of Being a Professional Sermon Listener

Students at Southern Seminary will spend 3,700 hours listening to lectures. Add to that hundreds of sermons from your pastor, in chapel and via podcast: listening to teaching is a huge opportunity for sanctification.

But that opportunity is missed if you listen to these sermons with no intention of applying them to your life.

Listening to sermons has never been intended to be a spectator event. It is supposed to be participatory.

Biblical listening entails the hearing and heeding of the Word of God. It is dangerous to procrastinate submitting to the Word of God. What starts out as a small act of hypocrisy, becomes a habit and what becomes a habit becomes a pattern and what becomes a pattern – if unchecked – leads to a lifetime of not listening to and applying sermons.

The Bible was written not merely to grow us in knowledge, but to transform us into Christlikeness.

I have experienced seasons in my life of being a professional sermon listener. You would never know it from the outside. The hard cold fact is that my sloppy lack of discipline replaced zeal for the application for the Word of God in my life.

Being a professional sermon listener is a danger that we are susceptible to, being around good teaching regularly. It is imperative that we not be professional sermon listeners. You can’t take people where you are not going yourself in the context of ministry in the local church.

The dominant theme in Proverbs is wisdom. Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God. Wisdom is the ability to have spiritual “street smarts.”

Right out of the gate, Solomon says, “Listen, son: you need to learn to fear God” (Prov 1:1-7). The second thing Solomon says is honor your father and mother (Prov 1:8-9). Then he says choose your friends wisely (Prov 1:10-18). Then we encounter our passage (Prov 1:20-33). The admonition here is: obey Scripture immediately.

You must learn, seminary student, to follow Christ now. You can’t wait until you get to your ministry post. You must obey now. Being under the truth is not enough. The truth must be in us, it must grip us, it must lay hold of us.

The thesis is this: if you shun wisdom today, wisdom will shun you.

It is deadly dangerous to postpone obedience and to suppress the conviction of God’s Word in our lives.

1. Wisdom screams to the unteachable (Prov 1:20-23)

Solomon portrays wisdom as a bold, attractive woman. Wisdom makes herself available. She cries out on the streets. Accessibility is important to lady wisdom. She is on the corner of the busiest intersection of the gates of the city. She understands the principle of access. She positions herself to be heard.

Her message is one of urgency: she is on mission. Wisdom shouts in the streets. She is not hidden, unclear or passive. Rather, she is bold, boisterous and in your face with her wisdom. You would have to intentionally avoid her. You cannot say, “I didn’t know.”

We have an amazing collection of resources available to us today: books, podcasts, small groups, conferences, etc. Wisdom is readily available and is screaming for our attention and our allegiance.

To hear and to not obey is not just sloppiness or laziness: it is sin. Obedience is expected of us. Obedience is doing what God says, when He says to do it with the right heart motivation.

Look at the progression in 1:22: from naïve (ignorant) to scoffers (arrogant) to fools (belligerent). This is the progression. Procrastination is not neutral: you are moving one direction or the other.

The ignorant like having their ears tickled, but Scripture calls us to box people’s ears.

The arrogant like to write blogs and hear themselves talk, but they do not obey Scripture or apply Scripture.

Whatever category you find yourself in, you must repent. Repent of your unteachability. Repent of the idol of ever learning and not applying Scripture to your own life.

2. Wisdom indicts the procrastinator (Prov 1:24-31)

We learn from this section that wisdom’s patience is long, but not unlimited. To reject truth is dangerous. There is a serious price to pay.

If you turn your back on wisdom, wisdom will turn her back on you. This sounds a lot like Galatians 5:8: you reap what you sow.

There are four results from spurning wisdom:

  • Wisdom will laugh

Wisdom will laugh at our calamity. When you need the most, she will not be available. When the storms come and the difficulties come, you will not be able to find wisdom, because you have built a habit and a pattern of ignoring the Word of God. You thought there were no consequences for ignoring sermons and ignoring the Word of God.

Do you know why wisdom laughs? Because you laughed at her. You ignored clear, diving truth from the mouth of God Himself for your own wisdom.

  • Wisdom grows deaf

Wisdom will not answer in the time of calamity. This is not a question of “if.” It is a matter of “when.” Life’s adversities happen in a moment. You need wisdom before calamity strikes.

  • Wisdom will hide

Do you sense the movement in the text? From laughter to deafness to hiding. Wisdom is actually actively evading the person who is seeking her out. Wisdom will be known when she chooses to make herself known. This is a spiritual enterprise.

  • Wisdom will judge

Because they spurned my reproof, so shall they eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices.

It is a bad habit to procrastinate applying God’s Word your life. It is spiritual insanity for us at Southern Seminary to not apply the Word of God to our own lives. We cannot lead people where we have not gone ourselves.

You can fake it during the easy times when everything is going smoothly in your life. But what about the difficult times? The difficult times reveal the spiritual sloppiness in our lives. And it is not just knowledge. It is life change.

Stop becoming a professional sermon listener. If you minister in the flesh, you get the fruits of ministry in the flesh. And then when trials come at an inconvenient time you will have nothing. You will wonder why you are blown so easily off course.

3. Wisdom exhorts the foolish (Prov 1:32-33)

The ball is in your court to apply wisdom to your life. Wisdom leaves us with a decision.

The waywardness of the naïve kills them; the complacency of fools destroys them. There is dread here.

But delight is available. To those who hear and heed comes blessing. Those who hear and heed will know how to respond in calamity. They have poured the Word of God into their lives and they now live like Jesus Christ.

Biblical listening means not only hearing, but also heeding the Word of God. The sermon is not over when the preacher says “amen.” It is then incumbent on us to apply the Word of God.

Don’t be a professional sermon listener.

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