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Proverbs 4:23-27
(Kent E. Heaton Sr.)

Solomon begins the book of Proverbs with the understanding of man's true relationship with God.  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (1:7) As he concluded the book of Ecclesiastes, he declared the whole of man was to "fear God and keep His commandments."  The structure of man's happiness can only be found in the word of God.  Through a study of God's word, man can see the correct paths to walk and the roads to travel to be found pleasing before the Creator.

In Proverbs 4:23-27, Solomon gives five basic rules for life.  In each of these rules, God shows a manner of life that will enhance the relationship men have for each other and especially toward God.  These five rules of life are in answer to the statement of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 10:23 when he writes: "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps."  The following five rules of life are road signs for man to seek after to be found pleasing before God.

Rule number one:  "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." (v23)
Jesus explained the heart as being the seat of our treasures.  "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things."  (Matthew 12:35)  The heart must be guarded with great diligence for the feelings we have in our heart will be the basis of our thoughts and words.  "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man." (Matthew 15:18-20) The rule of life we must follow is to guard our hearts from evil influence and anything that would defile our minds.  The issues of our lives will be from the kind of hearts we have.  Lot failed to guard his heart in the midst
of the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The consequence is found in his willingness to give his daughters over to the ungodly men of the city.  We can also see the impact of such influence upon his wife (who disobeyed God and looked back) and his two daughters (who committed incest with him). The following four rules will help determine the manner we guard our hearts.
If our hearts are pure, our mouth will be pure.  If our hearts are clean, our eyes will not stray to unclean places.  With our hearts sober our paths will be established in holiness.  With a sound mind, we will not be tempted to wander to the right or left and will keep far from evil.

What type of things harm our minds?  What we watch on television, the books we read along with the magazines we enjoy, the music we listen too and the movies we view.  These are just a few but have the most influence in our lives.  Our hearts must guard against anything that is unclean.  "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is clean."  (Romans 12:9)

Rule number two:  "Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you." (v24)
James describes the power of the tongue in James 3.  "Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole
body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell." (vv5,6)  The Lord chastens<


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