In the way of righteousness is life, And in its pathway there is no death. Proverbs 12:28
Can there be a path where there is no death? How can Solomon say that wisdom means that there is a way of walking that does not have death on it? Death comes to all men. So what do we have here - a contradiction in the Scriptures?
There are those who try to find contradictions in the Bible - who can find tons of them. Their problem is that they do not allow for poetic license by the writers of Scripture. Of course these are the same people who do not expect others to take them literally all the time in their lives. When they say that they could kill someone for what they said - they do not expect the hearers to immediately alert the police about their murderous intentions. We all use these kind of expressions almost every day. It is only those who WANT to find problems in the Scripture that try to expose what is clearly poetic language.
What seems to be a contradiction here is actually understood when understanding this passage in the context of the whole counsel of Scripture. You see the Bible speaks of righteousness in a way that we do not normally conceive. It speaks of "absolute" righteousness in reference to God's righteousness. The "way of rightreousness" therefore is not a works thing, it is a faith thing. The righteous man lives by faith. This means that he receives righteousness as a gift - and the gift comes from God Himself. Therefore the way of righteousness is a lifestyle that looks to God for justification. In the way of righteousness is life. We experience life when we turn to Him and receive the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ on the basis of faith (see Romans 3:21-26).
In the pathway of this righteousness there is no death. This is not saying that people will not die physically. If you understand both Testaments of the Bible you know that there is more than one kind of death mentioned. There is physical death which is experienced by all men. There is also spiritual death - which is the common condition of all mankind. They are alive physically, but dead spiritually. The Bible refers to the second death in Revelation. This is what will happen to all those whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life. They will be cast into the lake of fire at the end of the age - where they will die forever.
When we look at the whole counsel of God's Word, this passage not only makes perfect sense - but is even a declaration of the gospel itself. There IS indeed a "way of righteousness" that we can experience - through faith in Jesus Christ. It is THE ULTIMATE way of righteousness - and more than that - it is the ONLY way of righteousness. When we walk in that way - living by faith - there is no death in that way. We may die physically (which the Bible refers to as "falling asleep") but death will be swallowed by life - and life eternally. That is the truth of the gospel. It is not a contradiction - it is a glorious revelation!
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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