“He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (vs1)
Believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, now, because you don’t know what the future holds. If we do not receive His counsel, then sudden destruction comes upon us, and we lose our souls and miss out on eternal life. You can’t say, “He hasn’t struck me down yet, so I’ll continue in sin”, because the destruction comes without further warning. Just because sin isn’t causing you immediate grief, doesn’t mean that suddenly, it will not send you to hell or fill you with terrors. Our Lord warns us to be ready always, because we don’t know when He will come for us (Matt 25:13).
What is God’s direction to you? Do you believe on the Son of God, or are you risking your soul needlessly? Are you walking in rebellion, refusing instruction, and setting yourself up for destruction, or do you follow the Son carefully and diligently? Sinners think that tomorrow will be the same as today, and sin will go unpunished, but they do not understand that God never warns us needlessly. He never says, “Repent”, except there is danger to avoid. He never says, “Well, they didn’t hear my warning, so I won’t bring it to pass”, but SUDDENLY, and when you least expect it, you’ll open your eyes at God’s judgment and be sent to the lake of fire. A bus load of people may party and ignore the warning signs, driving all the way to the edge of the cliff with smiles upon their faces. But, soon, their terror is real. They were happy, but suddenly, they’re screaming for their lives, and it is too late. I don’t want to be found outside of Christ, not when I have only one soul. He says, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt 16:26)?
Let us repent and believe the gospel, giving ourselves to Christ, so that our eternity can be sweet. Heed His warnings, and be thankful that He warns you, instead of punishing you in the end.
Secondly, if we insincerely praise men, or if we praise them instead of God, then we trap them in a snare. We don’t do them good, but we seek their destruction, turning their eyes away from Christ (Prov 29:5). We read, “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet”. Complimenting people is good, and we’re right to commend our brethren according to the Scriptures. But, let it be sincere and from the heart, recognizing that every good thing in us is from God. Paul said of Philemon, “I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hering of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, bother” (Philemon 1:4-7).
Flattery is telling people how great they are, when they are sinners. It is giving honor to man, which belongs to Christ, such as telling sinners that they can save themselves by will power, when God says, “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Rom 9:16). Flattery diminishes God’s grace and leads people awry. Be careful, therefore, that you love others secretly, just as much as you say, and be sure to honor Christ far above any man. Brethren need to hear that they are helpful, and they must also hear and see where they are wrong. Nobody is above rebuke, no one is to be flattered, and we do others good by telling them the truth unto God’s glory.
Do not please men, but serve them faithfully, pray for them mightily, and know that every man is less than nothing, except for God’s grace. Fear God and give glory to Him, and you’ll esteem everyone else rightly. There is an account in Mark 8:22-26 where a man was healed, but he saw men walking as trees, and then he was healed even more, so that he saw all men clearly. This is God removing flattery from us. In the beginning, when first saved, we may think far too much of the preacher, almost worshiping him, but God teaches us over time that all grace is from Christ, and no one else can save from sin. Everyone is fallible and no human is to be given blind allegiance. We entrust ourselves to God and not men, and then we honor men because God has revealed them as people to be loved and respected, but NEVER worshiped.
Finally, scoffers reject the gospel, mock God, and they bring great destruction upon themselves and others. They influence their friends and family towards rebellion, and thereby, they call upon others to join them in rebellion, and finally in hell (Prov 29:8). We read, “Scoffers set a city aflame, but wise men turn away wrath”. The righteous, those who are made wise unto salvation, turn away wrath and God’s fierceness by hiding themselves in Christ and doing what we are told. We have His word, we believe it, and we follow Christ to safety, rather than ignoring good doctrine and thereby suffering punishment.
Your destiny is determined by what you do with the gospel. Do you despise and reject Christ, or are you devoted to Him? Do you trust His blood to save you, or are you seeking heaven by some other righteousness that you want God to accept? Do you believe that Christ is a good Master, and do you follow Him in love, or do you believe that He’s a fool, a vain talker, and someone who just has one of many justifiable opinions? Do you reject Christ or serve Him? Your answers reveal what shall happen to you. You’re either turning away wrath, or you’re bringing it upon yourself and others. Every day of your life is a decision. Will I live in peace with God or at war with Him? Will I believe, or will I call God a liar? John writes, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Song of God does not have life” (1 John 5:9-12). Turn away wrath by faith in Christ, or bring it upon yourself. Which will you choose?