Natural Man

March 18, 2022

Proverbs 16:25

There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. 

Is it a mistake that Proverbs 14:12 is repeated word for word in this verse? In one important sense, nothing that happens is a mistake. If a scribe in the year 1400 B.C. accidentally repeated a verse in his copy of the book of Proverbs, and his copy of the text became the accepted Hebrew text for all future Bibles, then we must conclude that God intended this to happen. If there is anything we have learned from the Book of Proverbs thus far, it is that God providentially controls all human events. 

When a teacher repeats something for his students, he does so for emphasis. This verse addresses the psychological state of fallen man. He always assumes that he himself is the standard of what is good and right. This is why there are atheists today who act as though they are morally offended by God’s destruction of the world by a flood and His destruction of the Canaanites. That atheist may be in favor of homosexuality, abortion, racial quotas, the redistribution of the wealth, and other favorite liberal causes. Of course, he would take great moral offense to God’s destruction of homosexuals at Sodom! 

But this autonomous attitude also explains why the flesh is so reticent to receive correction. How can the very standard of all that is right and just be questioned? Of course, the problem here is that men are playing the part of God, and this is the very definition of sin and evil. 

For related commentary, reference Proverbs 14:12. 

Proverbs 16:26 

He that labors, labors for himself, for his mouth craves it of him. 

Where men live with their sin and destructive tendencies, we wonder what keeps society from utterly destroying itself. This verse provides an answer to this puzzle. They work. Even the pagan historian Cicero understood this when he wrote, “People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.” 

Men, though they are sinners, are still interested in self-preservation. Unless societies have gone the way of the public welfare systems—where the masses are fed by a giant governmental bureaucracy—they still need to work. In the words of the Apostle, “If a man does not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). Generally, even the pagans understand this principle, and they work. A man’s hunger will drive him to work. As long as men will work, they will not give way to self-destructive habits such as drunkenness, drug addictions, and warring with neighboring tribes. This is the only thing that preserves a society that is not blessed with the sanctifying effects of the Gospel of Christ. 

Family Discussion Questions: 

1. If men think that they are the very paradigm of morality, how should this affect the way we preach the Gospel to them? 

2. If men labor for themselves by nature, why should we labor