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Why does the Bible Say, “You shall not…”

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Contrary to popular belief, the Bible doesn’t say “you shall not” to put a damper on life.  The scriptures only forbid things for our safety; they warn us when danger is on the path ahead.

For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light (Proverbs 6:23a)

As parents put limits on children because they lack the wisdom and experience to make good choices, so the Lord, who can see the future, puts limits on all humans. Consider this warning about a sexual tempter:

Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, Nor let her allure you with her eyelids. (Proverbs 6:25)

Why not?

Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.  Wounds and dishonor he will get, And his reproach will not be wiped away. (Proverbs 6:32-33)

God said, do not commit adultery because there are tragic results! 

  • Wounds speak of the physical consequences (think of all the sexually transmitted diseases that are in epidemic proportion)
  • Dishonor warns of professional penalties (think of the scandals that ruin reputations)
  • Reproach tells of social costs (think of the broken homes and kids who lack the love of two parents)

Even worse than these, to commit such acts brings destruction to one’s own soul.  God does not want that to happen, but just like there are physical laws, there are spiritual laws, such as,

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

The Lord wants us to live well.  We can follow His directions and be blessed,

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled (Hebrews 13:4a)

Or we can follow lust and suffer,

but fornicators and adulterers God will judge (Hebrews 13:4b)

Marriage is given for our good pleasure and protection.  This principle applies to all the commands in the Bible. They are for our long term good. You might not see it immediately when a command holds you back from something you want. But if you trust that your Creator knows best, one day you will see it.

Does this help with understanding why the Lord had to say, “You shall not…”?

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