Proverbs 16:2

Clean in His Own Eyes



1. In this proverb, Solomon makes a stark contrast that can be described variously:

a. between what men see and what God sees

b. between behavior and motives

c. between the outward and the inward

d. between a human perspective and a divine perspective

e. between personal justification and divine denunciation

2. In a word, this proverb is about self-deceit.

a. This is an issue that every one of us needs to consider.

b. We have all been there many times over. We may still be there today!

c. This proverb is not for us to use to judge others, but to judge our own hearts.

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes;

A. The WAYS of a Man

1. Way: most often used metaphorically to refer to the pathways of one’s life, suggesting the pattern of life… lifestyle.

a. The term is quite general and broad.

b. It is broad enough to include the WAY we think, talk, walk.

c. It is broad enough to include the WAY we SEE things; the way we DO things; the way we approach things; the way we handle things…

2. Ps. 119:5 – Oh that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes.

a. Our ways are often NOT in the way of obedience.

b. Our ways are often wayward!

c. Our ways need to be directed towards obedience… because obedience does not come naturally.

3. Jer. 10:23 – the way of man is not in himself… it is not in man to direct his steps.

a. We are often misguided in our way… and in the individual steps along the way.

b. It is not IN us to know the right way… yet we often THINK we do.

c. This is a danger: we don’t know the right way, but we THINK we do!

d. It is bad enough to be blind, but it is far worse to be blind and not know it!

4. Prov. 20:24 – we very often do NOT know our own ways well.

5. Ps. 119:27-28 – the way of lying vs. the way of truth.

6. Ps. 37:5 – commit thy ways unto the Lord.

7. Ps. 119:59 – I thought on my ways and TURNED!

B. Clean In His Own Eyes

1. In spite of the fact that the Bible says that we do not know our own ways well, they are often misguided, and we are inclined to wander OUT of the right way… our proud hearts persist in putting the best possible face on our ways.

a. Prov. 21:2 – EVERY way of man is right in his own eyes.

b. Twice Solomon informs us of this aspect of human nature: we see ourselves through rose colored glasses…

2. Prov. 30:12 – pure in their own eyes… yet unclean! They are unclean and don’t realize it. This is self deception. (Cf. the Laodiceans)

3. Prov.14:12 – there is a way that SEEMS right, but the end thereof is the way of death.

a. When examining our own hearts, we tend to judge superficially.

b. If something SEEMS right on the surface, we choose to dig no deeper… lest we discover something incriminating!

c. Just because something SEEMS right, that doesn’t mean that it IS right.

d. Many things SEEM right to us… but can prove deadly.

e. I have had so-called Christian couples living together in sin, and told me that it seemed right to them because they were in love.

f. Let God be true and every man a liar—even self!

4. Examples:

a. I Sam. 15:13-14 – I have obeyed the Lord!
• Saul THOUGHT he obeyed, but he did not.
• He may have convinced himself that what he did was good enough… close enough.
• But close is not good enough for God.
• It’s not good enough for your math teacher either!
• Saul was self deluded… deceived.
• He was clean in his own eyes, but he soon discovered that his judgment would not be based upon the way HE saw the situation, but on the way GOD saw things!

b. Luke 18:9-11 – the Pharisee thanked God that he was not like other men!
• These proud Pharisees actually thought they were doing well in God’s sight.
• But all of their actions were quite superficial… and God dug deep into their hearts.
• Being clean in one’s own eyes means nothing.

5. Aren’t we all a bit partial in judging ourselves?

a. Isn’t it human nature to give ourselves every benefit of the doubt, and to be a bit harsher in critiquing others?

b. Isn’t it hard for us to see uncleanness in our own lives, yet aren’t we at the same time eagle-eyed at seeing spots in others?

c. Aren’t we quite generous in giving ourselves slack… but not so generous with others?

d. Isn’t it a fact that we are inclined to overlook faults in our own lives, and pass it off as a mild infraction, but see the same fault in others as quite a bit more serious?

6. Let’s face it! We love ourselves and it’s hard for us to admit guilt or to see the error of our ways… though we see the error of others quite easily and readily.

But the LORD weigheth the spirits.

1. God REALLY knows the ways of men.

a. Ps. 1:6 – He knows the way of the righteous and the ungodly.

b. Ps. 119:68 – all my ways are before Thee.

c. Prov. 5:21 – all the ways of man are before God’s eyes…

d. I Sam. 16:7 – man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord sees the heart.

e. Jer. 17:10 – I the Lord search the hearts and reins.

f. Rev. 2:18-19 – the Lord’s eyes are like flames of fire piercing into our souls. He knows our works, patience, motives…

g. Heb.4:13 – we stand naked and opened before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

h. When God scrutinizes, we will find ourselves weighed in the balance and found wanting!

2. God weighs the SPIRITS of men.

a. Spirit = breath… sometimes used of an attitude…

b. Some translate this: God weighs the motives…

c. In either case, God digs much deeper in analyzing us.

d. Even when our actions seem quite good, the motive may not be. The spirit in which it was done may be evil!

e. Even when we justify our actions as being clean… our motives and the intentions of the heart may not be clean.

f. God knows it all. God is viewing it all.

g. God is weighing it all on His perfect, infallible scales. And His scales always give us the correct weight… the proper analysis… the TRUTH… and He is no respecter of persons.

3. No person has ever or will ever get away with ANYTHING before the Lord.

a. Even if we deceive ourselves into THINKING that our ways are clean… God judges according to truth… not according to our slanted version of the truth.

b. Even if we have excuses for all of our actions and a Bible verse that seems to back us up… God judges according to truth… rightly divided!

c. Regardless of all of our excuses and self justification, what matters ultimately is not OUR perspective, but God’s!

d. He doesn’t always judge immediately, but He does judge… and His judgment is according to TRUTH… not the individual’s perception of truth.

e. Prov. 1:31 – the way of man might be clean in his own eyes, but he shall eat the fruit of his own way.
• A deceived person is WRONG even if he THINKS he is right.
• And there are consequences to being in the wrong way… even when you think you are in the right.
• A person who gets in route 128 in the wrong direction driving 65 mph will PAY for being in the wrong way… even if he THINKS he got on in the right direction.
• It doesn’t matter what we think. What matters is truth.
• God judges all circumstances according to truth.
• That man will eat of the fruit of his own way.

f. Prov.14:14 – the backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.
• His backsliding may not be apparent and outward… it may not be seen by men.
• He may have deluded himself into thinking that all is well between him and God…
• He might be clean in his own eyes… but that is irrelevant.
• Often backsliders EXCUSE their sin… justify their actions… view themselves through rose colored glasses… and whatever sins they cannot cover, they explain away as minor… for after all—one can always find someone else who is in WORSE condition!
• Adam hid from God when he sinned… and men have been following in his steps ever since.
• Whether we hide behind a fig leaf or hide behind self delusion matters not.
• We stand naked and open before God. He sees all.
• There is no hiding from His piercing eyes…

g. Ps. 139:23-24 – Search me O Lord and know my heart…
• This should be our constant prayer.
• We are so inclined to overlook our own faults, failures, and sins.
• We need God to be our OBJECTIVE umpire… He calls the plays as they are in truth.
• And we need to be willing to submit to His calls.

4. Conclusions:

a. Let’s not be too confident of our innocence before the Lord.

• It is possible for us to be deceived into THINKING that all is well when all is NOT well.
• It is possible to have a clean conscience and be dead wrong! Our conscience might be fed the wrong information.
• God has ALL the information… and rightly divided too.
b. This truth will bring us peace in dealing with injustices done against us… and in many other interpersonal conflicts.
• Has anyone ever lied to you?
• Has anyone ever given you their side of the story and feel perfectly justified in their actions?
• Have you ever had to deal with someone who thinks they can do no wrong?
• Have you ever met a person who is a master of spin? They can take any set of circumstances, no matter how self condemning they are, and spin it in such a way that it is not their fault? It’s your fault… or someone else’s?
• Have you ever been frustrated in dealing with someone who is clean in his own eyes and there is no reasoning with him/her?
• Well, take heart. God knows the truth. God sees the heart… motives… intentions…
• Nobody EVER gets away with anything with God. Ever!
• We don’t have to worry about it. We don’t have to try to try to manipulate events in order to bring about justice. Justice WILL come—their day is coming! Trust God. Shall not the God of all the earth to do right?

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