4. sages seeking wisdom

Men are expected to grow in wisdom, becoming SAGES.

Wisdom is something men and women want from day one.  We just go to find her in the wrong place or we listen to the wrong voice,  “But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:4-6)

Chad has a respect for elders, authority, and wisdom passed down from men.  This is something absent from Western society.  In fact, authority and trusting the previous generation is forsaken. When making decisions in Chadian culture or whenever I enter a new town I will consult with the sage.  He is usually the oldest, wisest, and must trusted person in the village.  This man typically has white whiskers, sits on a mat most of the day, and is resolves disputes or gives out advice to a myriad of situations.

Wisdom in Scripture is personified as a Lady.  Boys and men are called to listen to her.  As you read Proverbs, particularly the first nine chapters you see that wisdom is a woman who disciplines boys.  When a man has grown up under Lady Wisdom and trusts her words he becomes a sage.

Proverbs is written for men and boys.  There are two things King Solomon emphasizes over and over to his son that are often struggles and for men.  First, be teachable (Prov. 1:7-8; 2:1; 3:1-2, 20; 4:1-3, 10, 20; 5:1; 6:20-21; 7:1-3).  Men are called to be students of many things: students of their wives (1 Pt. 3:7); students of their children (Eph. 6:4); students of God (1 Peter 4:1-5; 2 Tim 3:16-17; Psalm 119:9ff).  Second, be a good listener (13:1; 19:27).  Selective hearing starts as a boy, but men grow into it too.  Third, be thoughtful (e.g. instruction on women, folly, discipline, work, companionship, etc.).

A Christian man thinks.  He seeks lady wisdom.  He is to be a sage that other come from a far to hear.

DISCUSS:

  • What does wisdom look like? 
  • Why is wisdom an aspiration seldom achieved? 
  • At what age do men often become unteachable?  
  • In what domains to men need to be better learners, listeners and thinkers? 
  • What can you do to grow in those areas?

REVIEW: 5 Aspects of Biblical Masculinity

  1. lords of the earth
  2. tillers tending the earth
  3. saviors delivering from evil
  4. sages seeking wisdom
  5. bold and brave image-bearers
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3. saviors delivering from evil

Men are equipped to be SAVIORS, delivering from evil.

Men have a deep desire to deliver and save.  Men have a deep desire to defend something; to represent someone in battle.  That is why we are drawn to the examples of William Wallace and Maximus.

Jesus is the great example of a Savior.  His deliverance was promised from the beginning of creation, “The Lord God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he (Jesus) shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:14-15)

The serpent—dragon—was the tempter and deceiver that tricked Adam and Eve to sin.  God promised here a curse on the serpent, and in that curse we see the salvation of the world.

Men who follow Jesus follow the dragon slayer.  Jesus has promised to you he is defeated and he has promised you all the weapons you need to defend the serpent until Jesus delivers his final blow.

The Christians man is not a pacifist.  The battle is not over.  There is a Chadian proverb that says, “The camel is running and you bring luggage?” Which means, do not speak about reconstruction if the war is not over.  The Christian man is an activist for the kingdom of Christ to reign in this world, in his life, marriage, and family.  The Chadian also say, “You cannot collect fruit, sitting in a shade.” Meaning: You need to suffer in order to enjoy the fruit of your work or fight. In other words, “No pain no gain”. The peace that our Prince promises was fought for by his blood.  Jesus sacrificed himself in the war.  He laid down his life as an example for you to continue in his armor.

I have seen this battle through new eyes living in Chad.  The challenges and transitions of living in a new place were like adding miracle grow on my sin.  I didn’t realize how angry, impatient, and self-serving I was.  Same struggles in new skin.  I was on enemy turf and the dragon doesn’t go down easily.

In the Scripture, God calls us to fight evil on two fronts.  First, God charges us to fight tolerated sin or open sin.  It is the sin which we know we often do but confess we don’t want to do.  Second, God charges us to fight secret sin.  Why fight secret sin?  Because God is omniscient and omnipresent and holy.  Secret sin is built on a false theology of God.  He sees all and knows all (Num. 32:23; Heb. 4:13; Lk. 12:1-3).  God is invasive and he hates sin.  Secret sin is only temporary secret sin. Tolerating a little secret sin is like being a little bit pregnant (2 Sam. 11:3-4, 14-15).  You can’t tolerate too much before it is seen.  Sin breeds sin.  Hidden sin breeds more hidden sins.  Until it becomes too big to handle or manage.  Hidden sin grows and as it grows it becomes a form less pleasant than the sin originally was.  In other words, the initial sin commits other sins it didn’t intend to commit.  If not stopped it will destroy.

Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”  The principle is this: What I cover, God uncovers, but what I uncover, God covers with his mercy.

I have learned a lot about saviors and warriors living among the northern Chadians.  I have heard many stories about bravery in battle.  The people are a warrior people group.  They pride themselves on their toughness.  They train their children to defend themselves from a young age.  They enjoy find strength through testing, challenges and competitions of strength and endurance.   The way to their heart is stories about courage, victory and doing what is needed.

What is needed for Christian men is to band together with other men.  The I-can-do-this-on-my-own mentality is a quick way to die.  That is to drink diesel fuel.  Men need other men.  Jesus is the only hero who can do it alone.  He made us to need community.  When sin is wounding you fight with you Band of Brothers,

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

“Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)

DISCUSS:

  • What are the characteristics of a savior? (strong, sacrificial, courageous, good) 
  • What do you learn about being a savior from Jesus? 
  • Why must men never keep their guard down from sin? 
  • How is having a wartime mentality necessary for men? 
  • What are common tolerated sins for men? 
  • Why is their healing in confessing your sins to God AND other men?

REVIEW: 5 Aspects of Biblical Masculinity

  1. lords of the earth
  2. tillers tending the earth
  3. saviors delivering from evil
  4. sages seeking wisdom
  5. bold and brave image-bearers

creations need for reconciliation with its Creator

I am the product of the normal dysfunctional American home, which means my parents divorced before I was able to speak, I was in and out of special education classes in school, needed specialized counseling, and struggled with parental authority until after college. I am grateful today for my family situation and how God used it all as a means to mature me into the man I am today. However, when I was younger, I was not so grateful. In fact, I was bitter, jealous, self-centered, and had ungodly expectations of my parents, especially my mother.

It was until the summer after college, I came under conviction for my sinful expectations and need for reconciliation with my mother. After years of church, 4-years of Bible College training for the ministry, and life of ministry awaiting ahead God convicted me through His Word and His Spirit, “Justin, if you are going to be a vehicle of reconciliation into the lives you are ministering and have not reconciled with your own mother, you are living a lie. I have reconciled your relationship with Me. How dare you are slapping Me in the face.” By the end of that summer I sat down with my Father seeking forgiveness, and my mother seeking reconciliation for my hidden expectations. And God reconciled.

First, God promises to conquer sin and remove it from His creation [Genesis 3:15]. In the beginning of the fall of mankind, God gives a glimmer of hope. This verse is known as the protevangelium, or the first proclamation of the gospel. In the seriousness of the situation, Adam’s sin, gives a sobering mention of a seed of salvation. Although centuries of conflict will follow this fall, a day would come when the seed of the women triumphed over sin. Eve’s daughter, Mary, gives birth to the promised seed. “He”, namely Jesus, the promised seed [Galatians 4:4], will one day crush the head of Satan [Galatians 3:16-19]. In a sense, as followers of Christ live under the gospel and become reconciled to God they are destroying the devil and his work [Romans 16:20].

Second, God works throughout history to reveal Himself and reconcile His creation to Himself. From Genesis 3 to Revelation 22, God progressively works out His redemptive plan. In Genesis, we will see His plan worked out through Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and later with Moses, David and the prophets. God is relentless and passionate about His redemptive purposes for the people of this planet. God remedies creations need through the Redeeming Seed. He is the climax of history and the saving activity of God. He conquered sin, death, and Satan.

Third, God uses sacrifice as the means for reconciliation. It is a sacrifice that clothed Adam and Eve [3:21]; a sacrifice where blood was spilt because of sin. God provided this sacrifice. God initiated reconciliation and provided its means. What the Lord Jesus Christ is called in 1 Corinthians 15:45 is the second Adam. That the first Adam failed, and that the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ succeeded.[1]

Interesting connection, in the Garden before Jesus’ death, remember who comes to the second Adam? The serpent. The serpent tempts Jesus as He did Adam with food. He also tempts Jesus with pride. He takes Him and shows Him all the kingdoms of the earth, and says, “You can rule and reign over all. You don’t need to go to the cross and suffer. All you need to do is bow down and worship me.”

The first Adam allowed the serpent to speak. Jesus steps in and speaks. The first Adam allowed the Word of God to be misquoted. Satan again, in his temptation of Jesus as Adam, misquotes Scripture and changes its meaning. But Hebrews 4:15 says that every moment that the serpent came to tempt Him, He was tempted in every way as you are, yet without sin. At every moment that the serpent came to Jesus, He emerged sinless, triumphant, and victorious.

And so the serpent devised one final plan. As he had caused the first Adam to kill himself via sin that led to his death, he knew that he could not get Jesus, the second Adam, to kill Himself, so he decided that he would simply kill Him. In Luke 22:3, we are told that Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ own 12 disciples. He possessed Judas Iscariot, fulfilling the prophecy of Zachariah in which a friend through a kiss for 30 pieces of silver would betray Jesus. Indeed, Jesus was betrayed. Jesus was handed over. And Jesus was ultimately murdered unjustly.

Colossians 2:13-15 says that though this appears as a victory for Satan and his minions, it was the greatest victory in the history of the world for the Lord Jesus Christ. On the cross, Jesus did something extraordinary. He took sin upon Himself.[2] And Romans 5 says, “We’re either in the first Adam – dead, or in the second Adam – alive.“ Are you dead or alive? Which Adam do you follow? The Second Adam is your only hope of salvation and a forever. Follow Him.


[1] Cf. Daniel 7:13-14; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 12.

[2] Struggle, affliction and suffering won the battle over the serpent. Cf. Isaiah 53:12; Luke 24:26, 46-47; Romans 16:20; 2 Corinthians 1:5-7; Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 1:11.

the consequences of sin

Have you ever fallen so hard that you hurt yourself and needed help? I remember a few years ago, Hannah, a gal in our church fell so hard that she fractured her scull on the concrete sidewalk. She did not remember her fall after the initial impact, other than what other people tell her. Supposedly she was able to get up from the sidewalk and say, “My head hurts, really bad,” but doesn’t remember anything. When visiting her in the hospital she was noticeably dazed and confused. The fall left her with some immediate pain and sickness and long-lasting consequences such as memory troubles, headaches, and cautious attention to future activities. The consequences of the Fall of Mankind in the Garden of Eden were not at all different.

First, there are immediate consequences to the fall of man [3:7-13]. The major immediate consequence of the fall was death [Romans 3:23]. No longer was man innocent. They now knew right and wrong and their innocence could not be undone. This was not the only immediate consequence for sin.

Immediately sin brought guilt [3:7]. Satan promised Adam and Eve freedom, instead they received guilt. They thought sin would bring freedom, but all it brought was bondage. Their guilt caused them to be ashamed. They once were naked and unashamed, now they were naked, humiliated, and ashamed. They noticed their nakedness. Now, no one told them they were bare-naked, they simply felt open and vulnerable because God uncovered their hearts.

Immediately sin brought alienation from God [3:8-13]. Man was fooled into thinking they would be like God, instead they found themselves hiding from God. Like little kids hiding from their parent they tried to duck and cover from God but that is impossible [i.e. talking to bf or gf, porno under bed, drinking, immodest outfit, homework, etc.]. How silly is it to hide from an all-knowing, ever-present God? Sin makes you stupid. Have you ever watched COPS? Sin makes you do silly things. Sin alienates mankind from God, which breaks their relationship with Him.

Do you notice God has a lot of questions of Adam and Eve? Why so many questions? Through a few direct questions God quickly uncovers man’s heart. What you cover, God uncovers. However, what you uncover God covers. What Adam and Eve should have done is confessed to God immediately. When God asks, “Where are you?” They should have responded, “Here I am, I have sinned against you, God.”

You cannot run from God, for long. He is a pursuer. Man does not seek God; God seeks man. He is on a mission to “seek and save the lost [and hiders].” No matter how far or fast you run God, He is right there. You cannot shake Him. He is a pursuer because He is a lover. Will you stop running? Are you willing to come out of hiding and uncover your shame?

Second, with the fall of man came specific curses and consequences for specific characters [3:14-19]:

Character Curse Consequence
Serpent [14-15]

 

Note: he has already Fallen.

Cursed above all animals

Eat the ground [Cf. Is.65:25]

Made enemy of Seed

Death and promised judgment [3:15]
Woman [16] Pain in childbearing, childrearing, childbirth, & parenting [cf.Gen.1:28] Desire to rule over husband [i.e. control, dominate, manipulate, boss, cf. 4:7]
Man [17-19]

 

Note: Man was with Eve when she sinned. God holds him responsible for family.

Ground is cursed [17]

Struggle against the ground [18-19]

Go back to the ground [19]

Banished from the Garden [23]

Ground treat man like man treats God.

Weeds will mock man. Work will mock man.

Alienation from the land and Paradise. Relationship with ground and God affected.

Third, there are long-term consequences because of the fall of man [Genesis 3:20-24]. Shame caused the two-sinners to sew fig-leaf-undies to cover their nakedness. Like soldiers arming themselves with protection and defense they cloth themselves with weak and useless greens.[1] Notice God does not shame them even more because of their new Fruit of the Looms; rather God replaces their man-made coverings with a sacrificial garment [v.21]. God does for man what they cannot do for themselves. God sheds animal blood to give them a garment to wear, which begins the biblical theme of sacrifice, which weaves its way through Scripture.

The consequences for sin are serious, but God in His grace sends a sacrifice. Adam and Eve’s garment is the first sacrifice of many bloody sacrifices to come that stretch all the way to Jesus Christ on the cross [cf. John 1:29]. He is the Sacrificer for mankind’s sin, and therefore the self-declared Savior for mankind.


[1] Cf. Deuteronomy 28:48; Job 1:21; Isaiah 58:7.

how sin infects

With the entrance of sin into the garden a devastating chain of events happened within relationships and creation. In the Fall of Mankind into sin you learn what went wrong with the world in which you live. Sin is like a contagious infection that spread like a rapid plague through this world infecting the heart of man and the creation God made.

First, sin infects man’s relationship with God. The first man and women were created to know God and fellowship with Him in the Garden of Eden. The garden was a temple where they could, walk, talk and worship God.

Rather than responding to God in dependence their sinfulness craved independence. Like a teenager desiring independence from their parents, such is the state of man ever since the Fall—in a battle to become god in ourselves or create our own gods that were lift up higher than the One True God [Romans 1:21-25]. All gods we create are cheap imitations and lead man into confusion and frustration because they never quite satisfy like a relationship with God.

Second, sin infects affects man’s relationship with one another. Sin has devastated and disintegrated human relationships. I have seen in my short lifetime the devastating effects of sin within relationships. I have seen how bitterness and anger rip apart friendships, how temptations and immorality explode a marriage, how rape and abuse tailspin a women’s trust in a man, how a woman’s words emasculates a man, how fathers neglect their homes, how mothers forsake their babies, how siblings splinter over self-centered rivalries and jealousy, how tyrant bosses inflict their fearful subjects with slavish tactics, how governments sponsor genocide upon people groups. Sin has infected every relationship at every level. Man’s inhumanity to man has been the story of human history.

Third, sin infects all of creation [Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:20-22]. Humans are not the only ones affected by the Fall. The material world now resists man and makes life hard for him. Creation groans under the affects of the Fall. Sickness, crime, poverty, injustice, suffering, famine, death—this in not the world God created it to be. The sin of mankind is the source. So what must be done? What did God do? What can man do?

The infection of mankind sin has been passed down from generation to generation. It has permeated every living soul. As discussed, sin infects man’s relationship with God, man’s relationship with fellow man, and all of creation bears the scars of sinfulness. God, like a Great Physician is able to remove the cancerous tumor at a cost with consequences [more on this next week].

believing a lie from the wrong voice

The Garden of Eden was a place of beauty; a place untainted by sin and its crippling, polluting, heartbreaking effects; a place where they could hear and communicate with the voice of God; a place of intimacy with man and of intimacy with almighty God. Everything God created He says is “good.” Adam and Eve’s world was a paradise.

One rule. All Adam and Eve had in the Garden was one rule, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die.” [Genesis 2:17] Like a kid left alone with a cookie jar, our first parents started the first rebel-ution against their Heavenly Father.

If Genesis 1–2 was paradise, then Genesis 3 is paradise lost. Through one foolish and rebellious rule breaking act—eating the fruit God had forbidden—Adam and Eve lost their innocence, dignity, home, and relationship with God, “through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” [Romans 5:12] How did the Fall of Mankind happen?

The voice of God is the only voice Adam and Eve have know, however, a strange voice enters the Garden. The voice comes from a serpent. The serpent is defined later in Scripture as the “one of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” [Revelation 12:9]. He is a voice filled with lies. Jesus calls him the “the father of lies” [John 8:44]. Satan is sneaky and his first recorded words are deceitful and crafty [3:1]. Satan is no less crafty and deceitful today. How does he deceive with craftiness?

Satan seeks to confuse. His question for Eve was, “Did God actually say?” [3:1]. In other words, “Are you sure that’s what God said?” Eve heard God’s command loud and clear, but the serpent planted doubts in her head. He tries to confuse you too, “Maybe that verse doesn’t really mean what it looks it means. Maybe God doesn’t mean for you to take that literally. Maybe…Maybe…Maybe…” Satan’s strategy is to make you doubt the clear teachings of the Bible.

Satan twists God’s words. Satan puts words in God’s mouth, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” Nope. God did not say that! God told Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree of the garden—except the one [2:16–17]. Satan makes God look like a bully. Satan will says things like, “God won’t care if you take just one look. It won’t hurt anyone.” Or, “If it’s fun, why would it be bad?” Remember, God is good and Satan twists.

Satan comforts your conscience despite the consequences. He tries to ease the idea of actual consequences, “You will not surely die!” [3:4]. It is as if Satan is saying, “God’s not going to kill you over a small bite. Eating that apple is not a big deal. Go ahead. You know he will forgive and forget.” He is essentially saying God is a liar, but Jesus says that Satan is the liar [John 8:44]. This is where man needs to make a choice—believe God or not? God speaks the truth, “the wages of sin is death” [Rom. 6:23].

Satan speaks enough truth to make sin sound tasty. There is enough truth in Satan’s statement, “God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [3:5]. Satan is making sin sound so freeing. Satan promised Adam and Eve freedom, instead they received guilt [3:7]. Sin’s promises are like a mirage that never appears. They were fooled into thinking they would be like God, instead they found themselves hiding from God [3:8–10]. Satan fell to pride and he knows mankind is just as foolish. Today, we view pride as a virtue and submission to authority as a weakness. The world says, “Do want you want. Do what makes you feel good. Go for it. Live you best life now. Be proud of yourself. Have more self-esteem.” All the while Satan has you heart bait-and-switched on yourself.

It is important to note that God created the smart-mouthed serpent, Satan. What you do not hear in Genesis, but is explained later in the Scripture is that Satan and 1/3 of all the angels of heaven who sided their allegiance with Satan’s ego-trip rebellion against God were cast out of heaven. Satan is not co-equal with God, over God, or in some cosmic battle of good and evil with God. God has no match; He has no equal, nor is there anyone like Him. God has Satan on a tight leash and Satan knows it. Satan, like mankind is a created being and is dependent upon God like all for God’s creation, however he has been around a while and knows the sinful ways of man, which makes him very smart and more experienced in the ways of sin than you. Be careful what voice you listen to. Make sure the voice matches the character of God.