And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good (Deuteronomy 10:12–13, esv)?
Rules, some say, are made to be broken. And while you might not be the kind of person who’d say that (or mean it, at least), we all tend to question whether some of the rules we’re forced to follow are simply capricious or arbitrary and generally not founded in reason.
In some cases, of course, this is probably true. Cars traveling at 40 MPH, for example, might be just as safe and sensibly driven as ones following the posted 30 MPH speed limit on any given stretch of road. But someone in authority made a decision so, hey, that’s the way it is.
“God in His mercy has given us His Word as the Manufacturer’s specifications for human happiness.”
Please, though—do not extend this same line of thinking to God’s holy decrees in Scripture. Everything He’s said to us has its basis in His unique, all-knowing wisdom. The Bible is not a bunch of made-up opinions which, if God had been in a different mood one day, He might have configured in some other fashion. Life on Earth is not a sociological experiment. It is governed by its Creator, who perfectly understands everything about it—everything about us—and who in His mercy has given us His Word as the Manufacturer’s specifications for human happiness.
So when you hear the word sin—when you’re contemplating caving to a familiar temptation, when you’re building your case for why one little indulgence couldn’t possibly hurt—I hope you’ll hear something else instead. I hope you’ll hear sin to mean any action (or any failure to take action) that goes against God’s loving plan for human flourishing. Sin is not another pointless regulation that, if it wasn’t there, would make your life a whole lot easier and less stressful. The reason God doesn’t want you and sin to ever occupy the same living space is “for your good,” not a random restriction to your freedom.
When our church was designing a new worship center for one of our first campuses, my idea all along had been that we should remove the columns obstructing people’s view. I didn’t want all those posts interfering with the open floor plan we were hoping to create. One problem: those columns weren’t there for decoration; they each served an important, stabilizing purpose. We couldn’t just cut them out—or at least not if we wanted the building to stand. If we ignored the laws of physics and the rules of reliable architecture, people would eventually be hurt. By the fallout.
God is the Structural Engineer of the universe. Our thoughts are not His thoughts, and we will not always understand His ways. But hear this: Sin is sin for a reason. Disobedience is painful for a reason. The problems that come about from the failure to be a person who, as Isaiah 66:2 says, “is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” aren’t the random, backhanded slap of mere coincidence. We either follow the Manufacturer’s specs, or we suffer the consequences.
Lord God, thank You that Your goodness is unchangeable, and that Your ways are high above mine. Thank You for being patient and forgiving, and for the reality that You alone are trustworthy. I need You, Lord—Your will, Your wisdom, Your way, Your everything. I pray for greater, more grateful submission to You today, in Jesus’ name, amen.