God’s Rules Are Good.
The answer to the question is, “Yes, God’s rules are entirely good.” Â And while I want to provide some clarifications along the way, let’s start with how we know God’s rules are entirely good:
1) The Bible says God’s rules are good.
My two and a half year old son knows the words to “Jesus Loves Me,” and I’ve made somewhat of a habit of interrupting him after he says, “Jesus loves me, this I know…”, and asking him, “Buddy, how do we know Jesus loves us?” Â He hasn’t quite figured out that the answer (and a key truth I want to instill in him) is in the very next line of the song: “for the Bible tells me so.” Â Because the Bible is the perfectly recorded revelation of the God of all truth, we should believe that Jesus loves us simply because the Bible says He does. Â This is a very basic doctrine that dramatically affects the way a person lives his/her life, both for the person who believes that truth and for the person who rejects it.
One effect of this belief in my life is that I believe the authors who wrote Psalm 119. Â If you have never read it, have forgotten about it, or realize the truths therein are further from your heart and mind that you’d like them to be, clickÂ here to read this beautiful psalm that, among other things, expresses in wonderfully poetic language the absolute beauty and goodness of all of God’s revelation, which undoubtedly includes His commandments, or “rules.”Â Here are a few snippets from Psalm 119 that I hope will wet your appetite for the whole chapter…
“I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous” (Ps. 119:75a).
“Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them” (Ps. 119:129).
2) Human experience says God’s rules are good.
A great reminder that I sometimes need is this: the writers of the psalms were not robots. Â Yes, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:16-21) to write the very words of God, but they were also real human beings with real experiences. Â So, built into one chapter, Psalm 119, you have the declarations that God’s “rules are righteous” and “wonderful,” but they are coming from the mouths and experiences of real people: “I know…” (Ps. 119:75a). Â And there is the implicit “I know” in the beginning of Ps. 119:129, which results in action: “thereforeÂ my soul…” Â And consider the words of Mem, who wrote, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Ps. 119:103).
And of course, it makes sense that both the Scriptures and human experience attest to the goodness of God’s commands because God Himself is good. Â In fact, the Scriptures echo from start to finish with declarations and praises of God’s goodness. Â But, since we’re all ready in Psalm 119, consider with me the simple, yet profound statement made by Teth: “You are good and do good” (Ps. 119:68a). Â And, later in the same chapter, Tsadhe actually connects the goodness of God’s rules to the goodness of God: “Righteous are Â you, O Lord, and right are your rules” (Ps. 119:137). Â And this makes sense, doesn’t it? Â Because God is good, so must His rules be.
What About The Hard Passages?
Although the Old Testament law is no longer binding on us today, God’s character is undoubtedly displayed in them. Â And within the pages of the Old Testament, you find commandments that I would guess even most Christians wish were not in the Bible. Â Here’s a little sampling:
“If a man commitsÂ adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 20:10).
“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads” (Lev. 20:13).
“But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman,Â then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her fatherâ€™s house, andÂ the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she hasÂ done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her fatherâ€™s house.Â So you shall purge the evil from your midst” (Deut. 22:20-21).
“Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death” (Ex. 21:15).
“ForÂ anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother;Â his blood is upon him” (Lev. 20:9).
These passages (and others) are, to say the least, troubling. Â How can these commands be good? Â Is it really a good thing to kill people who commit adultery? Â Or is it a good idea to murder women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night? Â And can it be called virtuous to put your child to death if he curses you? Â Each of these passages is a study of its own (and outside the purpose of this post), but a couple of things should be noted. Â First, these passages functioned in the Old Testament as reminders to the people of God about the seriousness of keeping God’s rules. Â Second, since “the wages of sin is death,” these commandments are in no way unjust or unfair. Â Sin, or “cosmic treason,” always results in death (Rom. 6:23). Â And this makes sense, doesn’t it? Â If rebelling against an earthly king results in death (I do not know of a single monarch against whom it has ever been acceptable to rebel), how much more serious is it to rebel against the King of kings?
The result is that because rebelling against the Most High God is the gravest of all crimes, even commands like these, though difficult, prove to be virtuous and good.
As the Creator, God is the rightful owner of everything and everyone, and, as such, He alone possesses the unique right and ability to set the standards for his creatures. Â Next time we’ll address the question, “Who Enforces The ‘Rules’?” Â I hope you’ll come back!