Campfire Scripture: Uncommon Bible verses, simple Bible truths.
Author, Date and Context:
Solomon, the wealthiest King of Israel, wrote most of the proverbs, including many, many more that were not recorded in scripture, and he compiled still others from wise men that preceded him. 715-686 B.C. King Hezekiah then took Solomon’s and other surviving proverbs and compiled them into the book of proverbs that we now have.
As usual the beauty of the proverbs is that the context is usually self-contained. The only real considerations are things that are specific to the time, or the meaning and use of particular terms. Most of the time it’s self-explanatory though. For example sacrifice here, is talking about the sacrifice of animals for an individuals sin. Not personal ‘sacrifice’. The verse is explaining that it’s better to not sin, than to sin and then be in need of forgiveness.
What I Reckon:
The Lord weighs the heart. The Lord knows the heart better than it knows itself. It’s so simple and I think only the truly ignorant don’t recognize the truth of this simple statement.
It is so easy for us to justify our actions.
This is extremely common, and in some ways is not that terrible. I’ve heard it described as a survival mechanism.
This verse shows us the importance of doing God’s will according to his Word.
The majority of sins are easily recognizable and almost unanimously accepted by everyone, even non-Christians, as morally repugnant. Murder, theft, adultery… things like this are obviously wrong. Biblically speaking, dishonesty, fornication, pride and malice are obvious sins also – if you’re reading scripture honestly and openly.
But even when the negative consequences are less obvious, there is always reason to trust that God knows best. Take fornication for example. It might seem reasonably innocuous to many including a number of Christians.
Yes people get together and break up and it causes heartache, but many would say ‘that’s just a part of life’. Besides this though premarital sex is almost universally accepted as normal, healthy behaviour in Western culture.
And yet, we spend billions of dollars and time and effort trying to fix health problems and heartache caused by premarital sex that would utterly evaporate if only people showed just a little bit of self-control. This is only one example which shows that no matter how you spin it, human lives would be better on average if humans saved themselves for marriage. What God calls sin, he does so for our own good.
What the above proverb is saying is that no matter what, we will always excuse our own behaviour, even when it’s pressing on our conscience. We do it for lots of reasons, instant gratification being the primary motivator in this case I think.
We make all sorts of excuses:
“But we’re in love”
“We’re probably going to get married anyway”
“Marriage doesn’t mean what it used to mean in the Bible”
But the Lord knows better. He knows that you want sex, and that’s why you’re doing it.
“Yeah I do but…” no, nope. No buts. You just want sex.
“Well so what if I do, I can’t be expected to…” yes, yes you can. No buts. You can abstain if you really try.
The Lord doesn’t just know why sin is bad, he also knows our true motives, even when we think we’re doing something for the right reasons. This is why it’s important to trust the Word of God. Even if we don’t necessarily understand why a sin is a sin, we can trust that the Lord has our best interests at heart.
That’s the beauty of sin. God warns us against it, ultimately for our own good. The Ten Commandments are not an arbitrary list of dos and don’ts. Avoiding sin has value beyond simply pleasing God (although that is our primary motivation). Even if we don’t know exactly why a sin is a sin, the Lord does.
The second verse relates to this point. It’s so much better to simply obey the Lord and practise righteousness, than to end up in sin and then have to ask for forgiveness.
Of course we know this is impossible to do perfectly, which of course is what’s so Amazing about Grace.
All Campfire Scripture passages are taken from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise stated.
John MacArthur, 2006, The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (1995 edition).