Proverbs 21:8

As for the Pure…


1. This proverb is an antithetical parallelism: the two parts of the proverb speak of opposites: sinful man and a pure man… and their opposite ways/works.

2. This proverb simply makes an observation about human behavior… and it leaves us to draw our own conclusions.

The way of man is froward and strange:

A. The Way of Man

1. MAN

a. Here Solomon is speaking about mankind in general.

b. He is referring to men as fallen sinners before a holy God.

c. It speaks of a frail man as opposed to a holy and omnipotent God.

2. The WAY of man…

a. Here Solomon (as he so often does) gives us an inspired appraisal of human nature.

b. Defined: Way; path; journey; direction; manner; habits; a course of life; moral character.

c. Solomon is speaking in broad terms here of the whole manner of life of mankind… the lifestyle… the direction of one’s life…

d. Throughout the whole course of human history, the way of man has been pretty uniform.

e. The way of man speaks of the ways of man apart from God.

f. Perhaps we could think of this as the broad way… the broad road that leads to destruction. (Matt. 7:13-14)
• Unsaved men like to think of the ways of man as being wide… numerous… with many roads…
• We like to think of the world as being diverse with many various ways… many lifestyles… many religions… many philosophies…
• In fact, there are not many ways of man. There are only two roads: the broad way and the narrow way.
• The wide diversity of thought, the philosophic pluralism, and the many roads in life that men THINK they see, are really but ONE.
• While the road may be BROAD… and there may appear to be great diversity on that road, from God’s perspective, they are really all on the SAME road, headed in the same direction… with the same destiny.

g. The many ways of man around this globe are here called in the singular: the way of man.
• And even though different nations and cultures seem to be headed in different directions, they are really treading down the same broad road to destruction.
• From man’s tunnel vision approach to life, we see just how truly BROAD the road is. It seems to include many different ways… but that is due to our earthly tunnel vision.
• From heaven’s vantage point, God can see the whole picture. He can see clearly that all of mankind (except for a remnant of His own) is really on one very WIDE road.
• Eph. 2:2-3 – That is because Satan is the god of this world… and he is leading the whole world away from God.
• He doesn’t care how many various philosophies they adhere to, or how many various religions they cling to.
• All of those philosophies, world views, and religious views are really ONE: anti-God… anti-truth.

3. Solomon uses two terms to describe the WAY of man.

B. The Way of Man Described

1. Froward

a. Defined:
• Strong’s: crooked, perverted;
• Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Pertaining to actions in life that are not right or straightforward, with a possible implication of deception.
• Zodhiates: Denoting something crooked, perverted, devious. It describes the winding, crooked, serpentine path of a guilty person.

2. Strange

a. Defined:
• Strange does not mean odd or unusual as it does in English.
• Strange does not mean “foreign” as it often does in the Bible.
• The term used here literally means to be burdened with “something.”
• Strong’s: Guilty, burdened with guilt.
• Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Pertaining to a person that has violated a standard, implying a moral corruption.

3. Solomon here describes the way of mankind in general.

a. That is because mankind in general is guilty… they carry around a heavy burden of the guilt of sin.

b. This is the way of the world… how they live day in and day out.

c. It is the way of the ungodly… those who do not know the Lord in a saving way.

d. It is the way of life for all those on the broad road that leads to destruction.

e. How does God describe that “way” of life?
• For them, life is a winding, crooked, serpentine path, burdened with the weight of guilt because of inward, moral corruption.
• That’s the way the whole world LIVES. That’s what the man of the world IS.
• That’s the way immoral, violent criminals live. If they have not yet seared their conscience, and thus they are burdened with the guilt of their deeds.
• That’s the way moral men live. They too struggle with guilt… the guilt of unforgiven sins.
• That’s the way the religious world lives.
» Religious men also carry around a load of guilt.
» Deep down inside, they know that their works cannot really take away their sins.
» They can never experience rest or peace with God.
• That’s the way we ALL lived before we came to know Christ.
• It is a pretty fitting description of life in the world apart from the Savior.

f. What a contrast to the believer in Christ who is trusting in the Lord.
• This believer is not carrying around a heavy burden of sin.
• He has taken his sin to the cross.
• There he has experienced forgiveness of sin… and the weight and burden of past sins are GONE.
• The believer’s conscience is not weighing him down. Rather, he is singing the gospel song: Burdens are lifted at Calvary!
• His conscience has been purged… cleansed… and he is experiencing the JOY of the Lord… not the guilt of sin.

g. But Solomon’s description of the way of mankind in general is not a very encouraging or flattering description.
• It is quite pessimistic, but it is a picture of spiritual reality.
• Psalm 14:2, 3 – Here again we have a broad picture of humanity from God’s heavenly perspective.
• Ecc. 9:3 – There is one event for all: all men live evil lives. (In varying degrees of evil, but all are evil… in the sense of rejecting God.)
• Ecc. 7:29 – But this is NOT the way God made them. The way of mankind today is the result of rejection of God and rebellion against His ways.

h. Solomon teaches that the way of the guilty mankind is crooked. His statement could hardly be argued… and really needs no comment.

But as for the pure, his work is right.

1. The man who is pure PROVES himself to be such by his works… his fruit. By their fruit ye shall know them.

2. Prov. 15:26 – The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.

3. Pure: Pure, clean, righteous, pertaining to an upright and innocent state, free of guilt.

a. The term is used substantively of a person who is clean and pure.

b. Purity is the result of regeneration… a life justified by faith.

c. Acts 15:8-9 – “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

d. This is the supernatural work of the Spirit of God in cleansing and transforming a dirty heart into a pure heart.

4. Work:

a. Works, deeds, labor or the product of labor.

b. This term “works” stands in contrast to the “ways” of man.

c. A man’s “ways” consist of his works…

d. Works done day in and day out BECOME our way of life.

e. Our daily deeds, over time, demonstrate our character… our lifestyle… our WAY of life.

5. Right:

a. Straight, upright, correct, right, level… what is morally innocent and proper according to a standard.

b. This man’s works are RIGHT.
• They are not crooked—they are straight.
• They are not off kilter—they are on the level.
• They are not twisted—they are straight as an arrow.

c. A man’s works are a pretty good gauge of his life.
• They are not a perfect gauge. Religious men can put up a mighty good front… they can clean the outside of the cup.
• But in general, by their fruits (works) ye shall know them.
• If a man’s works are right… it often indicates that HE himself is right… righteous.

d. Of course, God examines more than just our outward works. He also examines the inward motive and intentions behind our works… things that are hidden to us as mere human onlookers.

e. If a man is PURE on the inside, his works will be RIGHT

f. Hos. 14:9 – “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.”

g. Consider Daniel: His way was pure… open… honest…
• His enemies “could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.” (Dan. 6:4)
• His life was pure… his ways were pure.
• This too was because of regeneration.
• Solomon makes a clear contrast between man by nature (crooked; guilt ridden) and man by grace (pure and his works are right)

6. As Christians, our WORKS are important to God.

a. They add nothing to salvation, but they are important.

b. We are to be ZEALOUS of good works… of works that are right in God’s sight… works that are the result of the Spirit of God working in us… the fruit of the Spirit, not of the flesh (righteous outwardly and inwardly)