Wednesday, October 17, 2007

the law is light

"My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually on thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

"For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life."

Proverbs 6:20-23

In Proverbs 6, the son is not merely urged to remember that his father always said "shut the gate" and his mother upheld toothbrushing as law. Rather, it speaks of the commandment by which a father in Israel was to live; the law which gave shape to a mother's life. The law of God was to be passed down from generation to generation, and Solomon urges the son to keep it: to eat, sleep, and breathe it.

Moral law has a bad rap in our culture. Philosophically we don't believe in it, because everything is relative. Practically, many people build whole lifestyles out of fighting against it. But Scripture praises the law of God--not as a way to salvation, but as a light.

God's moral law shows us right from wrong. In doing so it shows us the nature of God. Every time I step out the door I'm confronted with a culture that's rapidly coming apart. In the name of freedom our culture grows more grotesque by the minute. By contrast, scripture takes me back to the mountain air of real freedom: to a world where a promise is a promise, where marriage is sacred, where impurity is condemned, where life is valued.

On a mountain outside Jerusalem, Jesus spoke to the Jewish people, to whom God's moral law had first come, and said, "Ye are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:14-16). As Christians, we have also received the light of God--not only in the law, but more clearly in the person of Jesus Christ.

"For the commandment is a lamp," Solomon writes, "and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life." It's more important than ever that Christians uphold moral law. If we don't, we help plunge the world into greater darkness. Let the world hate us because we are holy, but let us not give them reason to name us hypocrites.



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