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Gems From Proverbs

“Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor” (Prov. 14:9).

There is much mocking of sin these days. It is the subject of jokes for stand-up comedians. Sins are spoken of as things thoroughly delightful, as though the greatest pleasures in life are to be found in those things that God has forbidden. New names are found for old sins to make them sound less evil, or even good.

Those who treat sin in such ways are indeed fools, for they deceive themselves about the nature of sin and its consequences. They act as though sin were nothing when it is an offense against God which He will surely judge.

But our proverb says even more than this. The Hebrew word here translated “sin” is used most often of an offering or sacrifice for sin. Whoever makes light of sin also makes light of offerings made to God to atone for sin, especially the offering of Christ who gave Himself to God as an offering for our sins when He suffered and died on the cross.

If sin is nothing — a laughing matter — then the sacrifice of Christ is unnecessary, something to be treated with scorn. And whoever mocks at Christ’s sacrifice is, more than anyone, worthy to be called a fool, for he treats with contempt the only source of deliverance from death and damnation.

The opposite of a fool, according to our proverb, is an upright person. And the word “upright” must be understood in the context of Scripture. An upright person is not just a person who leads an outwardly upright life, who is a law-abiding citizen or a good neighbor. An upright person is one who is upright in the sight of God, not just in the opinion of his neighbors.

There is only one way to be truly upright and that is to be justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

Among the upright “there is favor”. The upright — those who are justified before God by faith in His Son — have God’s own favor resting on them. God is pleased with them, not because they are naturally better than others, but because they have been cleansed of all their sins by the precious blood of Christ. The upright enjoy God’s favor and need never fear that He is angry with them or that He will punish them. In all their life they can be confident that He will deal with them in love.

The modern way to deal with sin is to downgrade it. People try to deal with their guilt before God by belittling their own sins. But those who do so only insult God by denying the rightness and holiness of His law, and they make a mockery of the sacrifice of Christ, made to atone for sin.

It is a temptation for all of us to try to deal with our sins this way, to try to excuse our faults rather than confess them. May we rather confess the fullness and greatness of our guilt and trust in Christ, so that the favor of God may rest on us.

— Pastor John Klatt