Instruction that Causeth Thee to Err
1. This proverb is translated in one of two ways, that at first seem to be saying the opposite, but they are not.
a. KJV and others
• KJV: Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.
• Darby: Cease, my son, to hear the instruction which causeth to stray from the words of knowledge.
• This is a command: stop listening!
• Holman Christian Standard Bible: If you stop listening to instruction, my son, you will stray from the words of knowledge.
• NASB: Cease listening, my son, to discipline, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.
• This is a conditional clause: if you stop listening… you will err.
2. One is a command to STOP listening (because it will cause you to err), and the other is a condition: IF you stop listening, you will err.
a. One says, “stop listening or else!” The other one says, “don’t stop listening or else!”
b. What is implied in each is this:
• KJV: stop listening to bad instruction…
• Others: don’t stop listening to good instruction
3. One might think at first glance that these two are opposites and hopelessly contradictory… but that is not the case.
a. Actually, in the end, they are both saying pretty much the same thing… one from a positive and one from a negative perspective.
4. All hinges on the italicized words: that causeth
a. These words were added by the translators.
b. This completely changes the way we approach this proverb.
c. SOMETHING needed to be added to this sentence for it to make sense. This is common in any language. We do it in English.
d. What I like about the KJV is that they TELL you they have added words.
• Thus, with the KJV, you have the option of interpreting it for yourself.
• The other translations do not tell you that. They lead you to believe that there are no options.
• Young’s Translation: Cease, my son, to hear instruction—To err from sayings of knowledge. (nothing is added but a dash)
e. LIT: Cease to hear instruction… err from sayings of knowledge.
• You can add: If… then (if you cease to hear, then you will err)
• You can add: Cease to hear and it will cause you to err)
• SOMETHING has to be added.
• Both make perfect sense; both are true; both concepts are supported by other proverbs; both are equally legitimate ways to reconcile the two parts of the proverb.
f. Since something needs to be added… and the only two things that make sense to add are equally viable and legitimate, I am going to look at BOTH possibilities.
• We will see from the Scriptures how perfectly legitimate both views are.
• Usually the author has ONE thing in mind when he writes. We don’t give two meanings to one passage.
• However proverbs are a little different.
• One has to wonder if Solomon left this ambiguous on purpose that it might be taken either way.
• I don’t feel qualified to say dogmatically one way or the other, so we are going to look at both possibilities.
Cease, my son, to hear instruction that CAUSETH TO ERR from the words of knowledge
A. Cease to Hear!
1. This would be a COMMAND to stop listening to WRONG instruction.
2. Prov. 14:7 – GO from the presence of a foolish man. Get away from him.
a. If you stay with him and you will eventually listen to him.
b. The command here is, “Don’t listen to him,” for you will become LIKE him if you do.
c. Therefore, GO from his presence.
3. Matt.16:6, 12 – Don’t listen to the “leaven” (false teachings) of the Pharisees.
a. Leaven is a corrupting influence that starts off small, and then spreads throughout the whole.
b. Don’t listen to false teachings because it will have a corrupting influence on YOU.
4. Mark 4:24 – “take heed what ye hear.”
5. I Tim. 4:7 – Refuse old wives fables.
a. It isn’t necessary to be familiar with every strange view that comes along.
b. It isn’t necessary to have an answer for every strange view.
c. We are told to REFUSE them!
d. This is the same word as “reject” in Tit. 3:10 – reject a heretic!
e. Don’t give them the light of day. They are a waste of time and energy.
6. I Tim. 6:3-5 – Withdraw yourselves from those who do not teach wholesome words.
7. II Tim. 2:16-18 – but SHUN profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker. (They err and overthrow the faith of some.)
8. II John 10 – When someone comes to your house with false doctrine, don’t receive him into your house. Don’t even listen to him!
9. This is a common and oft repeated theme in the Scriptures.
B. Causing You to Err
1. There are words which (if listened to) will cause you to err from the words of knowledge and truth.
a. This was the problem of Eve in the Garden. She first LISTENED to the serpent.
b. The words of the serpent led her and Adam astray.
c. Being led astray begins with words… listening to words… appealing words (ye shall be as gods)… great swelling words of enticement…
2. Words can be helpful or harmful…
a. Not everyone who offers you advice is offering that which is good for you.
b. There is such a thing as BAD advice… and bad advice can lead you astray.
c. This kind of warning is necessary because Satan has his emissaries out in the world seeking to lead us astray. They fill pulpits. They write books. They have talk shows. They are on TV and radio. They are out for your ear and your heart.
d. This is one of the reasons the doctrine of separation is so important. God wants us to AVOID those whose doctrinal positions can lead us astray. Stay away… don’t listen to… avoid!
e. Gal. 5:7-8 – Paul warned the Galatian believers about listening to the Judaizers.
• They were having a corrupting effect on the church.
• These false teachers were causing believers to be led astray into error.
• He writes to tell them to CEASE from hearing them!
f. Rom. 16:17 – Avoid them altogether.
g. The world teaches us to be broadminded… to listen to all religious voices. God says just the opposite. DON’T listen!
h. Deut. 13:1-4 – Do not hearken to him. He is to be put to death! God meant business concerning those who lead His people astray.
3. Why do you think the Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to knock on doors?
a. Because some people let them in and listen to them.
b. Even some believers let them in and listen to them (in spite of what John said!)
c. And they are well versed in their twisted concept of sonship… and most believers are not able to answer their questions… and are easily deceived by them.
4. This is good advice when it comes to many of the popular speakers on TV and radio too.
a. Don’t buy their books. Don’t listen to their tapes and CD’s.
b. Don’t listen to what they have to say.
c. The danger is that they mingle truth with error, and many new or untaught believers don’t have the discernment to be able to separate the truth from the error.
d. That’s why Solomon said CEASE TO HEAR…
5. And what good advice this proverb is to our young people away at secular colleges and universities!
a. Don’t listen to words that will cause you to err from your faith in Christ and in the Word of God!
b. Don’t give credence to them. Sift everything through the Word of God. Put everything you hear to the test of God’s Word.
c. They will try to convince our young people about variations to morality… the origins of the earth… new forms of family… spanking… roles of husbands and wives…
d. They have an agenda to replace every last ounce of Christian influence in this country with their own program. Don’t hear them!
e. Solomon urged his son to RESIST every assault against the words of knowledge he received from his father and from the Lord.
Cease listening to instruction, my son,
AND YOU WILL stray from the words of knowledge.
1. The NEW KJV interprets the proverb as a conditional clause. “If you cease to listen to instruction, you will stray…”
a. Unfortunately, they did not italicize the words they added.
b. This conditional clause (in meaning if not grammatically) is akin to what Solomon wrote in verse 20: “Hear counsel… and you will be wise…”
c. The difference is that verse 27 approaches the subject from the negative: “If you stop hearing counsel… you will stray…”
d. If you STOP listening to good instruction, you will err… wander… go astray…
e. Therefore don’t stop listening to GOOD advice and instruction.
f. The point is this: don’t ever stop learning! Don’t ever stop receiving instruction.
g. Don’t ever think you have arrived at a place of wisdom where you no longer have to listen to advice and counsel. That is PRIDE.
h. Young people like to think that they can open themselves up to all kinds of theories and philosophies and not be influenced by them. It is a lie.
i. We like to think of ourselves as being broadminded and intellectual because we are open to all kinds of views. In fact, we end up with a kind of eclecticism that is spiritually deadly.
j. That person will surely FALL… wander… be led away into error.
2. This thought is also well attested to in the book of Proverbs and throughout the Scriptures.
a. Many of the earlier proverbs were instructions from a father to a son. (Like this one… the expression “my son” has not been seen since chapter 7)
b. Solomon wrote to his son and gave him much fatherly instruction.
• Here Solomon states to his son, “My son, if you stop listening to the instruction I’ve given you over the years, you will end up in trouble. You will STRAY far away.”
c. Prov. 19:20 – Hear counsel
• Solomon’s point here is that counsel is to be heard.
• It is to be sought out.
» Sometimes counsel comes to us. But sometimes, we have to seek it out.
» Seek older, spiritually mature believers for advice.
• It is to be listened to carefully.
» And when they give you advice, listen carefully.
» Even if you don’t like what they say, LISTEN.
» Hear them out. They are trying to help.
» If you CEASE TO HEAR, you will not gain the help you need. You will err from the right pathway.
d. Prov. 12:15 – The fool is the opposite of the one who HEARS instruction. The fool doesn’t listen because of his pride. He thinks he knows it all. If he CEASES TO HEAR… he will wander in folly!
e. Prov. 11:14 – Where no counsel is, the people fall. (They wander about in the dark, and eventually fall!)
3. Thus, understanding Prov. 19:27 to be a conditional clause in meaning, (“If you cease to hear instruction… then you shall go astray,”) there is equally well supported in Proverbs and in the rest of the Scriptures.