Lean Not Unto Thine Own Understanding
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Intro: The Bible is filled with verses that deal with understanding.
Here are just a few that remind us of just how important understanding is.
- Proverbs 4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
- Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
- Proverbs 16:16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!
Here’s the problem. There are more than one kind of understanding found in the Scriptures.
There is the understanding that comes from God, and then there is our OWN understanding.
I. The Unbiblical Thinking that is Instilled in Us – “…thine own understanding.”
It is essential that we grasp just how messed up our own understanding really is.
- Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
- Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
- Psalms 81:12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.
- Proverbs 3:7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
- Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes…
- Proverbs 23:4 …cease from thine own wisdom.
- Isaiah 5:21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
- Romans 12:16 Be not wise in your own conceits.
- Philippians 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.
- 2 Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves,
- 2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
It is essential that realize that everything we think, understand, feel, know is POLAR OPPOSITE from God’s truth, God’s Word and God’s wisdom.
Nothing God says will register with our “own understanding.”
Nothing the Bible says will appeal to our “own understanding.”
Nothing the Holy Spirit inspires will agree with our “own understanding.”
II. The Unreliable Tendency that is Instinctive to Us – “…and lean not…”
The word LEAN here means to lean on, trust in, support
Over and over again, our default action is to revert back to leaning on ourselves.
NOTE: Did you know it is scientifically impossible to lean on yourself?
It is also impossible to lean on your own understanding.
It is like a rotten post eaten up with termites and decay.
It might look sturdy, but the minute you put it to the test, it won’t hold up.
The first thing we do is rely on our understanding.
If it doesn’t make sense, we balk.
If it can’t be explained or logically worked out, we reject it as truth.
The first thing we do when making a decision is turn to ourselves and our own understanding.
We establish ourselves, our intellect and our understanding as the final authority.
We accept or reject truth after we have weighed it out in our own understanding.
Though it’s never right, and God has never been wrong, we lean on ourselves rather than on Him.
It doesn’t matter how wrong it is, it always gets us.
ILLUSTRATION: Eve knew what God said. Then she heard what the serpent said. Then she leaned on her own understanding.
Notice the process:
- Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
She saw, it was pleasant to the eyes, it became a desire, and she took.
The deception was multi-layered.
Not only did her understanding tell her that it was good for food, but that it would make her wise.
So her understanding led her to believe there would be both an instant gratification as well as a long-term benefit (to make one wise.) She was wrong on both accounts.
Our default response to instruction from God is to judge it through our limited understanding.
In most cases, our understanding is a composite of:
1. Hurtful Experiences – our knowledge is the result of being burned, hurt, mistreated, etc.
2. Harmful Exposures – the wrong people with the wrong agendas have influenced us
3. Halfway Explanations – we’ve only heard it explained by someone as ignorant as us
4. Haughty Exemptions – well, that doesn’t apply to me
III. The Unreserved Trust that is Instructed for Us – “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;…”
When we lean on our own understanding, we do several things.
A. We overvalue our own intellect.
B. We undervalue God’s intellect.
C. We allow what we think to outweigh what God knows.
Just how crazy is that?
These verses remind us of just how trustworthy God is.
Isaiah 55:8, 9
- For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
- For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
- 4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.
- 5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high,
- 6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!
When we choose to lean upon our own understanding, we are essentially convinced we know everything.
We are deceived into thinking we know more than God knows.