Paul claims in 2 Timothy 3:15 that the sacred writings “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The “sacred writings” in view are the entire Old Testament, which includes the book of Proverbs. It is especially fitting, then, that Paul ascribes to these “sacred writings” the power to “make you wise” [σε σοφίσαι].
The book of Proverbs is an extended meditation on what obedience to God’s law looks like in every area of life. Therefore, it functions in a similar way to God’s law in the life of the Christian. It exposes our sin, points us to Jesus, and trains us to know what pleases God as we live by faith.
Proverbs, like the law, exposes the sin in our hearts. Like a penetrating searchlight, Proverbs shines the righteousness of God into every dark crevice of our heart and daily life with a specificity that even the law does not match. For example, Paul says in Romans 7:7 that “if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it was to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” Proverbs goes further, helping us to see with even greater vividness how sinful covetousness is and the end to which it leads (Proverbs 6:25–35).
The necessary first step to “salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” is the wisdom of knowing the sinfulness of our own souls.
Pointing to Jesus
Jesus proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount that he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, which includes Proverbs (Matthew 5:17). This means at least two things: first, that Jesus embodies God’s perfect wisdom (Matthew 13:54, Luke 2:40). Second, it means that by perfectly fearing the LORD in every circumstance of his life, he also completes the righteous requirements of the law on behalf of his people. The good news is that though he is the only one who ought to have enjoyed life as the fruit of his righteousness (Proverbs 10:16, 11:30, 12:28, 21:21), he instead paid the deadly wages of our foolishness so that we might receive the reward of his wisdom. O the glory of the gospel’s great exchange!
Proverbs not only exposes our sin, but also points us to the only Wise One whose righteousness is sufficient to cover our folly.
Training in Righteousness
Once we have been taught to see our sinfulness and led to the cross of Jesus Christ for forgiveness, we are actually freed to obey God’s laws and live wise lives by the power of his Spirit, whom he has given us.
In Ezekiel 36:25–27, God promises that after removing our hearts of stone and giving us hearts of flesh, he will put his Spirit within us and cause us to walk in his statutes and be careful to obey his commands. Obedience to God’s law does not make us right with him (Romans 3:20, 8:7). But having been freely justified through faith in Christ, the power that sin had over us is broken, and by faith we are now enabled to walk in a manner that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). By faith in Christ Jesus, we are actually able to walk wisely (Ephesians 5:15). And how do we know what it looks like to walk wisely and to please God in all of life? In part, through reading Proverbs.
So, brothers and sisters, God has given the church the book of Proverbs as Scripture not merely to make us worldly-wise, but to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us read Proverbs as Christian wisdom!
- Praise the Lord for the 78 graduates who launched into life and ministry last Friday night.
- Praise the Lord for the completion of the On the Double match.
- Praise the Lord for another year of study for our students and their teachers.
- Pray with us for the students and faculty to have a restful summer.
- Pray that the Lord would bring the students he desires to school here this fall.