Strangeness and the Order of God – Gospel in Life

Strangeness and the Order of God

Tim Keller |  October 3, 2004

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  • Christian Living and Obedience
Proverbs 5:16-23; Revelation 21:1-5
RS 178-04


Today’s message comes from a series on the book of Proverbs in which we’ve been looking at the subject of wisdom. Wisdom can be defined as: competence with regard to the realities of life. It is knowing the right thing to do in the vast majority of life situations in which the moral rules don’t apply or in which there are multiple permissible options.

Why is it that so many religious communities want to make up new rules? One answer is that we won’t have to think. We want a rule to cover every single situation, so we don’t have to apply wisdom and think out the implications. But the truth is that you can never create enough rules to cover every situation. This is where wisdom comes in — you have to know something about the true nature of reality. Today we’re going to look at 1) the persistence of reality, 2) the problems with reality, and 3) how it gets healed. If you want to be wise, you have to know all three.

Proverbs 5:16–23; Revelation 21:1–5

We can see the difference between wisdom and foolishness in the results of our decisions, especially when we think about being faithful in marriage or choosing to be unfaithful. God sees everything we do, and when we do wrong, it can trap us. But there’s hope, because God has promised a world made new where He lives with His people. When we look at Proverbs, we see that reality has parts that last, parts that cause trouble, and parts that can be healed. Wisdom isn’t just about following more rules, it’s about understanding the complicated parts of life.

1. The lasting parts of reality

Proverbs 5:16-20 talks about why being unfaithful in marriage is wrong. It shows us a deep truth: doing wrong things goes against who we really are, like trying to breathe without air. God’s moral and spiritual rules are as sure as the physical world around us, and we become wise when we understand and live by these rules. But being truly wise means more than just following rules—it means really understanding them.

2. The difficult parts of reality

When we think about God’s rules for what’s right and wrong, we might realize that following these rules can lead to good things, but sometimes good people still suffer and are taken advantage of. Some people criticize the idea of a world where God’s rules mean that suffering is okay, and it’s hard to know what’s right or wrong without God’s rules. The gospel gives us answers to these problems. Without rules for what’s right and wrong, people and societies can make really bad choices that lead to a lot of harm.

3. The healing parts of reality

When God steps into our world, He can heal and renew what’s been broken by our mistakes. This is something special about Christianity: it shows us that God is a judge who fixes things instead of just destroying them. Even though a throne is a symbol of judgment, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can approach it confidently, finding hope in the gospel of the judged judge. The wisdom in the Bible’s proverbs helps us find our way in a broken world, encouraging us to make balanced decisions that lead to real fulfillment and wisdom.



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