Lessons About True Repentance and Righteous Living from Proverbs

Since true repentance is turning from sin to do what is right and pleasing in God’s sight, then every point about righteous living in Scripture is a lesson related to true repentance.  And along the same lines, every contrast in the Bible between the righteous and the wicked is in some way a lesson about what true repentance is.   A book in Scripture which especially deals with these points, and with these contrasts, is Proverbs.  In this study then we’re going to look at lessons about repentance and righteous living from Proverbs.  

No lying; no deceit

Proverbs 13:5: “A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.”

Lying though doesn’t necessarily involve speaking what one knows is false.  It can involve choices to embrace falsehood and to live accordingly.

Proverbs 12:5: “The thoughts of the righteous are right: but the counsels of the wicked are deceit.”

Proverbs 11:18: “The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.”

We also read in Psalm 24:3-4: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?  or who shall stand in his holy place?  He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”  And Psalm 15:1-2 says: “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle?  who shall dwell in thy holy hill?  He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.”  

Being honest about your spiritual state before God, and honest when we are tempted to complain against Him (which there is never really a righteous ground for), are also aspects of not lying and not being deceitful.

Proverbs 20:6: “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?”

Proverbs 19:3: “The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord.”

All liars will have their part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).  And this includes those who love lies as well as those who make them (Revelation 22:15).

Turning from covetousness related to mammon; and not trusting in riches in order to trust in the Lord.

One way in which people commonly embrace lies without necessarily speaking lies is through an improper estimation of riches.  Jesus made it clear that service to mammon and service to God are inherently rival pursuits.  He also made it clear that those who trust in riches cannot enter God’s kingdom (Mark 10:24).  And it is in that context that He said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (see Mark 10:23-25- He had just dealt with the Rich Young Ruler at that point).  Yet you don’t have to be rich (though most Americans are by Bible standards) to be in need of repentance and an attitude adjustment regarding riches.  

Proverbs 28:22: “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.”

Proverbs 18:10-11 (note the contrast): “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.  The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.”

Proverbs 11:28: “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.”

A priority shift in order to embrace God’s values instead of what sinful man tends to esteem highly.

Proverbs 16:8: “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.”

Proverbs 15:16-17: “Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.  Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.”

Proverbs 16:19: “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

Due regard for the poor and needy

Proverbs 29:7: “The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.”

Proverbs 14:21: “He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.”

Proverbs 14:31: “He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoreth him hath mercy on the poor.”

Proverbs 21:13: “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.”

Proverbs 11:24-25: “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.  The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.”

Honor of parents (this extends to all God-ordained authority in one’s life)

Note: None of what we are about to read eliminates the possibility that one’s parents or another God-ordained authority figure in one’s life could be their enemies in terms of opposition to living righteously and faithfully before God.  Even then, they should still be honored and only contended with as much as is necessary to stand for the Lord and vindicate righteousness.  

Proverbs 20:20: “Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.”

Proverbs 30:17: “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.”

No one has the right to steal from their parents.  Proverbs 28:24: “Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.”

Parents can be dishonored through wasting what they have provided on sinful things and/or through overall display of bad character.  Both are seen in Proverbs 29:3: “Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.”

Note here how dishonor of parents is foundational to an exceedingly wicked generation before God (and resisting the authority of the father out of hatred of patriarchy would surely be included here).   

Proverbs 30:11-14: “There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.  There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.  There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.  There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.”

Proper instruction and discipline of children

And woe to the parents who don’t discipline their children, who let them run free, and perhaps even lead them into sin themselves.  Righteousness for parents also involves disciplining their children and not allowing them to get away with evil (let alone encouraging them to do evil by their words and/or their example).

Proverbs 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

Be sober.

Proverbs 20:1: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Proverbs 23:29-35: “Who hath woe?  who hath sorrow?  who hath contentions?  who hath babbling?  who hath wounds without cause?  who hath redness of eyes?  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.  Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.  Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.  Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.  They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake?  I will seek it yet again.”

Is it okay then to be high on things besides alcohol because these passages directly talk about alcohol?  Of course not!  It’s a sin to do anything to yourself that would cause you to not be sober.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.  Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”

You cannot even receive God’s grace properly and be transformed thereby if you are not sober minded and do not walk in sobriety.  Titus 2:11-12: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”

You’re sure rejecting the grace of God, and you’re sure not living righteously and godly, if you’re not living soberly.

Righteous companionship and righteous discernment of who is exemplary.

Proverbs 13:20: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

Consider that in the entertainment you choose as well in your friendships.

Proverbs 14:7: “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”

Proverbs 22:24-25: “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”

Amos 3:3 says: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”  Of course not.

Along the same lines, we cannot faithfully walk with Jesus while regarding sin, including having sinful companions and/or sinful admirations.

Hebrews 1:8-9: “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.  Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity (lawlessness); therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

Don’t envy the wicked. 

Proverbs 23:17: “Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.”

The following is spoken of a wicked society.  Malachi 3:15: “And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.”

Do not listen to the wicked giving their wicked instruction.

Proverbs 19:27-28: “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.  An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.”

Many now need to obey that instruction regarding the church they attend.

We are told the following in Proverbs 28:4: “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.”

A person walking righteously before God will have an incompatibility with those who aren’t based upon their different attitudes towards God’s authority and (thus) God’s Law.  Hence, we’re told in Proverbs 29:27: “An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.”  The Bible has nuanced counsel related to various specific situations, yet this truth must be acknowledged and taken to heart.

Not being governed by one’s passions (involving a commitment to disciplining one’s words and temper)

There are street preachers and many others who try to use zeal for truth and hatred of sin as a smokescreen to release their own anger and vent their own carnal frustration.  God’s whole counsel though exposes the carnal and malicious and proves the justifications which such make for their anger and malice to be lies.  We need to heed God’s counsel on these things and not let that diminish His counsel in other areas one bit.

Proverbs 14:17: “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.”

Proverbs 29:22: “An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.”

Proverbs 15:18: “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”

Proverbs 16:32: “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”

Proverbs 18:6-7: “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.  A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”

Proverbs 17:27-28: “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.  Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

Proverbs 10:19: “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”

Doing one’s duties towards others without partiality and not privately avenging oneself.

Proverbs 3:27-30: “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.  Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.  Devise not evil against thy neighbor, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.  Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.”

Proverbs 20:22 “Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.”

Proverbs 25:21-22: “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.”

Those things in no way negate the need to rebuke sin.  And these things in no way negate the need to use force to help the oppressed against the oppressors and for authorities to punish the wicked appropriately.  

Proverbs 24:11-12: “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it?  and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it?  and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”

Proverbs 19:29: “Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.”

Don’t be slothful.

And this also applies to doing our spiritual duties before God.  Doing our natural duties is also one aspect of doing our spiritual duties before God.

Proverbs 26:13-16: “The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.  As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.  The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.  The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.”

Proverbs 24:30-34: “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.  Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.”

Flee fornication.

This also applies to not being seduced by lustful advertising and corrupt entertainment.

Proverbs 6:23-25: “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.  Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.”

Proverbs 7:21-27: “With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.  He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.  Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.  Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.  For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.  Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.”

1 Corinthians 6:18 says: “Flee fornication.  Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”

And Hebrews 13:4 says: “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

No partiality/no respect of persons in judgment

We need to be determined to know the truth of a matter.  Personal preferences put aside, not being governed by the fear of man, and diligent discernment are essential.

Proverbs 18:17: “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him.”

Impartial cross-examination is necessary, along with due diligence in the exercise of our discernment in order to know who is really at fault.

Proverbs 18:13: “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

Proverbs 14:18: “The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.”

Proverbs 18:15: “It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.”

Proverbs 29:25: “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”

Proverbs 24:23-25: “These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.  He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.”

Along the same lines, elsewhere in Scripture we’re told the following.

Leviticus 19:15: “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.”

James 2:8-9: “If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”

Use God’s Word as your reference point and guide.

This is essential to living by faith in the true God, the God of the Bible.

Proverbs 13:13: “Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”

Proverbs 19:16: “He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.”

Proverbs 3:5-8: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.  It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

And in Psalm 1:1-2 we’re told: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

Don’t rely on your own heart for guidance.

Proverbs 28:26: “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”

I’ve heard a false pastor say that certain people had been led by God’s Spirit because they had spoken from their hearts.  He was only proving what a fool he was.

Turn from all sin, break from all sin; regard no sin.

Hopefully this study sheds more on the light on the verses we’re about to look at. 

Proverbs 16:6: “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”

Proverbs 28:9: “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”

Proverbs 28:13: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

Proverbs 14:9: “Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor.”

And we are told in 1 John 3:4-5: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.  And ye know that he (Jesus Christ) was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”

Walk in the fear of the Lord, receive instruction from His Word, and cooperate with His chastisement.

Proverbs 28:14: “Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.”

Proverbs 13:18-19: “Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honored.  The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.”

Proverbs 15:31-33: “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.  He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.  The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.”

Proverbs 3:11-12: “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”

Proverbs 16:17: “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.”

Proverbs 4:20-27: “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.  For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.  Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.  Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.  Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

With these things in mind, the wicked and the righteous are known by their deeds.

Proverbs 13:6: “Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.”

Proverbs 16:31: “The hoary head (a reference to an elderly person’s hair) is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.”

Proverbs 14:32: “The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.”

Jesus said the following along the same lines in Luke 6:43-49: “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  For every tree is known by his own fruit.  For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?  Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.  But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”

Warnings and exhortations in light of these things

Proverbs 29:1: “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

Proverbs 27:12: “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

Proverbs 19:12: “The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as dew upon the grass.”

How much more so regarding the King of Kings?!  

Revelation 19:15-16: “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.”

Aaron’s email is: [email protected]