Speaking of Life 5032 | Therefore…
Have you ever noticed how many times the word “therefore” appears in the Bible? One rule of thumb that has been given to help understand a passage in scripture, is that when you see the word “therefore” you need to look to see what it is there for.
That’s a clever reminder that the author has previously told us something significant that will have implications for our lives. The “therefore” means that what follows will be the implications of what the author shared. As a silly example, if I told you that your house was on fire, I may choose to add, “Therefore, get out.” I hope I would not have to tell you that, but I think you get the point. Because your house is on fire, you will want to respond in a fitting way, like getting out of the house or calling the fire department.
The use of the word “therefore” reminds us that when God gives us a command or some instruction, it springs out of an important truth or promise. Sometimes the actual word “therefore” may not be written, but whenever you read a command or instruction, you don’t have to look far to see what the command or instruction is there for. It may be in the immediate passage before or it may be embedded in several chapters leading up to it.
In the book of Romans, we see an example where Paul has been talking about the reality of our union in Christ. On that basis, he then gives some implications of that wonderful truth with a “Therefore.”
Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:12-14 (NRSV)
If we read that passage and never looked to see what the “Therefore” was there for, the words may come across as burdensome and even impossible. But, because Paul has been talking about our union in Christ, these commands are fitting implications to the wonderfully good news that we have been freed from the bondage of sin to receive and live in his righteousness.
The recurring “Therefore” in scripture is letting us know that the triune God is not in love with raw and arbitrary commands. Rather, he loves us. Everything he tells us flows from that love, and from his good purposes for us. In short, there is nothing God tells us to do that is not for our good or that we must do apart from him. That’s what the “therefores” are there for.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.