In the last post I mentioned that Proverbs comes next.  And the next rule is about Proverbs:

Note the Difference Between Proverb and Law

This one gives me a bit of pause, but it does make good sense.  Proverbs reflect Godly wisdom; they are couplets that state a practical truism, but they do not reflect moral laws and should not be considered true for every situation.

So how does that strike you?

Perhaps you are a bit concerned that I’m not saying (well, Sproul, for what it’s worth) that every Proverb is true.  That would be exactly the point, because they convey wisdom, but being wise does not always bring about a perfect result.  We live in a fallen world, where people act the right way for the wrong reasons, good intentions get people killed, and sometimes we end up being blessed despite deserving far less.

Sproul wisely uses Proverbs 26:4-5 to illustrate his point:

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

If you were paying close attention, you noticed that the Bible advised you not to answer a fool, then said the exact opposite.  Essentially, there are times when you should answer a fool, and times when you should not.

Now, the Bible also contains rules for living that seem somewhat like proverbs, but they are not.  They are moral laws that must be followed all the time, unlike proverbs.

I won’t get all technical in describing the matter, but suffice it to say that you’re reading the law when you read statements that begin with “You shall…”, or “You shall not”.  That’s pretty straightforward.

But other areas of the law are “If/then” statements.  These statements teach you a principle to follow.  Such principles are applicable in a wide variety of situations.

Keep your eyes peeled, and recognize when you are looking at law and when you are reading a proverb.