Lucia's Blog: March 2019
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, March 29, 2019

THE BIBLE IN ETHICS

"And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' 37 And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.'"  
Matthew 22:35-38


It was wrong for Pilate to declare, “I find no fault in him” and then deliver Jesus to his soldiers to be crucified. However, Jesus Himself declared them guilty of greater sin who delivered Him over to Pilate. Sin is sin, right is right, wrong is wrong, and some sins are more sinful than others.  Our generation has a difficult time finding a reason to condemn even the grossest of immorality. They walk in darkness because they invent their own "ethics." Let us consider what God has to say about the "ethics of right and wrong."

There was a time when our people understood clearly the concept of right and wrong in our nation.  Even those who committed crimes understood such criminal acts in spite of knowing better.  Up until the last half-century, all recorded history was characterized by a clear understanding of moral absolutes.  From the Babylon Code of Hammurabi to Bible faith ethics, every culture acknowledged certain behaviors as wrong and evil.  Our nation's standards for moral principles of conduct and ethics emerged mostly from the Ten Commandments, the New Testament teachings of Christ and the apostolic teachings, especially the written letters of the apostle Paul.  Our society generally accepted certain foundational laws and moral absolutes.  The following things were considered good and right:
  1. Human life.
  2. Loyalty.
  3. Respect.
  4. Trustworthiness.
  5. Fidelity.
  6. Commitment to family and marriage.
  7. Responsibility.
  8. Kindness.
  9. Generosity.
  10. Forgiveness and
  11. Love.

Sadly, things have changed for the worse, and the effects of these changes are noticeable all around us. We see these changes on the internet, in social media, in the news media, in our homes, and in our churches.  Moral chaos permeates our schools, our streets, even our homes, and churches.  In fact, there are as many as 1,000 unwed teens who will become pregnant, 500 adolescents who will begin using drugs and 6 young teenagers who will commit suicide as I am writing this study.  That is not in a year, or a month but every twenty-four hours in our nation and society!  Even those who are Christians and should be walking in the Light, setting a positive example for our younger generations are walking in darkness and setting the pace for immorality and lawlessness.  They invent new ways to "push the envelope" of degraded behavior.  In our society, it is common to hear about prominent politicians, professional athletes, business leaders, and even preachers and leaders in the churches committing adultery, abusing drugs, indulging in all manner of illicit sex, and on the home-front domestic violence.  How on earth did we get to such a place?  What on earth had happened?  How on earth did we get to a place where our young teens boast about killing one another, where schools are required to have extreme security checkpoints and our young interns fall prey to corrupt politicians?  Some suggest that we should spend more tax money on education reform, urban development, family planning clinics, win the war on drugs and build bigger prisons.  But the truth is that we have lost our foundational understanding of moral ethics of what is right and wrong.  It is sad, but in our nation, from our leaders to our youngest school-age children, our people don't want to adopt values, ethics, and morals as their own. Values are core beliefs that guide and motivate our attitudes and actions.  Ethics are the standard of conduct that stress how one must behave on moral issues that arise from principles of right and wrong. Unfortunately, our professors, politicians, preachers and those in authority teach their own set of ethics Who is right about right and wrong?  It boils down to just one foundational question:  What is Truth?  It is impossible to know what right and wrong are without finding out what is true. It will be hard to know what is right in any given situation or make decisions about morality or social behavior without the Truth. From 1950 to today our nation's understanding of Truth has significantly shifted.  What was once clear is now clouded with uncertainty and confusion.  There has been a vast number of issues, cultural events and philosophical changes that have brought us to this point.

The Bible provides us with a pattern for human conduct.  God's Word furnishes us with principles of righteousness to help us make the right choices or decisions in all areas of human conduct:  gambling, abortion, the sanctity of life, chaste behavior, etc.  The Bible contains "present Truth" for "such a time as this" that we may walk the straight path (2 Peter 1:12; Esther 4:14).  The Grace of God has appeared to bring salvation unto all men, "teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world," (2 Titus 2:11-12).  The apostle Peter inspired by the Holy Spirit says that "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence."  (2 Peter 1:3).  The world around us makes minimal effort to live by God's moral standards or principles of righteousness.  As a matter of fact, they even scoff at the authority of the Bible.  But for us Christians, we have no other alternative but to submit to the Lordship of Christ and His rule.


I.   SO, WHY STUDY ETHICS?

Because it is desperately needed in the church.  Many Christians are ignorant of the major cultural issues that are tearing apart our society.  It is disturbing to see how often some Christians allow non-believers to dominate their worldview or take control of issues such as abortion, human sexuality, the role of the state, war, and the environment.  Few seem to be ready to give a defense of the Truth and God's absolute standards or principles of righteousness found in His Word.  We children of Light must speak and act according to God's revealed Word.  I can assure you that by doing this, by speaking as the oracles of God, we will speak the ethical Truth to this world of darkness.  Consider for example the issue of abortion. When the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that a woman could perform an abortion based on her right of privacy supposedly found in the United States Constitution, who would have thought this evil doctrine would become so powerful?  This “right of privacy” reframed the abortion issue.  As a tragic result, our culture no longer focuses on the right of the baby but rather on the rights of the woman, eliminating the baby's rights altogether.  But we Christians must be aware of these raging humanistic ethics and battle against it with God's revealed Word.  Ethics without God's divine Word become culturally acceptable.  We must use the Bible to approach these cultural, ethical issues.  Sadly, many think that the Bible is irrelevant when it comes to ethical cultural issues.  We must learn to think Biblically (a Biblical worldview) according to our faith and the convictions given to us by God in His Word.  The Bible is God's Word, that is able to equip us for every good work and is beneficial for correction, rebuking and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  We must start loving God's Truth and develop a heart that is thirsty for God's WordStudying the Word of God is vital for ethical decision-making, for it gives us God's views or ways and His absolute standards of righteousness.  God's Word helps us to discern His mind on any ethical issue.  It helps us also to develop any principle from God's Word and reach a defense on any ethical position about right and wrong Ethical, moral absolutes are the only Biblical choice we have, for giving a defense concerning what is actually wrong or sinful.

There are two worldviews: Biblical and secular.  A worldview is a cluster of all the answers to the big questions.  And according to this, there are specific questions or classifications most people want to ask.  These questions are:
  1. What is true?  
  2. What is the basis for the Truth?  
  3. How do we know that something is right?  
  4. What is real?  
  5. Is God real?  
  6. Am I real?  
  7. Is this world created real?  
  8. Where do we come from? 
  9. Or where did everything come from?  
  10. What is right and wrong?  
  11. Is there any right or wrong?   

All these questions have, but one purpose and that is to identify the fields of epistemology (the study of Truth), metaphysics (the study of reality) and ethics (the study of right and wrong).  In this study, I will be considering the subject of ethics which is the study of right and wrong and Christian ethics.

I would like to start out by posing the following questions:
  1. What is right and wrong?   
  2. How do we know right from wrong?  
  3. What is good and what is evil?  
  4. Is love always the right thing to do?  
  5. What are the ethics of Christians?  
Let us consider each one.


II.   WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG?

When studying the subject of ethics, one must carefully discern two different things, right and wrong.  We all know and believe there is a right and a wrong.  This is interwoven with our actions.  Some actions are right, and others are wrong.  That which is right is what is morally required.  That which is wrong is what is morally or ethically prohibited.  According to God's Word, right and wrong are closely linked to God's willGod declares what is wrong and contrary to His will, what is holy, righteous, loving and just.  An action is right when it conforms to the will of a holy and just God.  He declares the standard for human conduct which is objective, universal, eternal and exalted, worthy of respect.  Christians view their moral life as obedience to the will of God.  Their view transforms moral truth into the will of God to obey and honor Him.  Objective right (morality) is composed of those actions that are right according to moral or ethical standardsSubjective right are those actions that are believed to be right whether or not they are actually right.  Often what a person thinks is right according to his own conscience, might actually be right (subjectively and objectively).  But this is not the case always.  So, is there really a right and a wrong in life?  Many people in our culture believe that society dictates what is right and wrong: the majority rule.  They allow their society to set the norms and make the choices for them. The problem is that a society can change their belief causing all sorts of outcomes whether good or bad. But one who has a Christian worldview knows that right and wrong originate from God, as written in the Bible.  The Bible has laws that must govern our conduct of behavior according to God's will.

According to our culture, right and wrong are based on personal preferences as their ethical standards"I say what is right for me."  They believe that right and wrong change from person to person, for they are relative to each person (individual moral relativism).  So moral decisions are based on personal feelings or emotions.  According to this way of thinking (moral relativism), there are no absolutes and true beliefs because they are always changing.  The word "tolerance" has been badly corrupted and abused in our politically correct culture.  The word "tolerance" used to mean an act of sympathy for beliefs or practices that differ from our own beliefs.  The act of tolerance means that those holding different views can disagree without accepting the other person's opinion or belief.  Today, in our politically correct culture, the definition of the word "tolerance" has changed for the worse since our culture claims that one's beliefs, lifestyle, and truth are all of equal value.  That is, everyone must accept their truths, claims, and lifestyles as our own.  They dare say to us, “You shouldn’t force your morality on someone else.” Yet they are forcing their beliefs on us! It is nothing more than cultural moral relativism which is the belief that right and wrong are always changing from culture to culture (relative to each individual culture).  This way of thinking and belief lacks concrete and true standards.  Instead of each individual determining what must be right and wrong, it is the culture that determines or dictates what is right and wrong.  It implies that each culture dictates what is right for each individual in that society.  Many ask the question “Who is to say what is right?"  The answer is, “No one else but God!”

A Christian worldview looks for moral absolutes to define the standard of right and wrong that must be applied to each and every person, regardless of time, location, personal preference, and culture. Of course, it points toward God, His character, His Truth and the way He designed this world.  Most importantly it describes God's unchanging and eternal nature which must be applied to our ethical standards.  How often do we hear people make the statement, "If the Bible doesn't say it, I can do it."  They ignore that God has given us a Sacred Book that addresses every situation, every moral principle, and guideline. The Bible commands and lays down laws to abide by what, which are the right and wrong in society.  God has created and established laws that teach and discipline men and women concerning Him and His love for us.  God's laws are for our good!  God has set eternal standards that apply to every situation, for they are moral absolutes related to God and His character. Many believe that our government has the right to dictate how we ought to live our lives safely when in fact that's not their job and purpose in life, for they cannot lead us to a positive and confident path even when they set rules to follow.  God is the only One who can set the rules or standards for our own good.  He created ethical principles so that we may live according to His image and teach others His ways and thoughts, His principles of righteousness.

So, do you think that it is wrong to rob a bank?  We all would agree that it is wrong.  Do you think that adopting or helping a poor orphan is the right thing to do?  Again, we would agree that it is the right thing to do.  Do you think that a man such as Adolf Hitler was wrong when he executed so many human beings?  Do you think that his "final solution" was right?  Or that the behavior of pedophiles, serial killers, and rapists is entirely wrong?  So, what makes such things wrong?

It is indisputably true, and almost everyone will agree that there are things that are right to do and others that are wrong to do.  Today, we live in a postmodern society of moral corruption that rejects the concept of absolute and validated Truth.  Many will try to convince you that there is no such thing as absolute right and wrong.  But, when they see someone behaving in a non-ethical way that would cause harm, pain or suffering, they get very upset.  They would not hesitate to tell you that it is wrong.  All human beings are conscious of what is right and wrong.  The Word of God calls this a “conscience.”  Our conscience makes us feel sorrow when we do wrong, for it bothers us and makes us feel guilty until we ask for forgiveness, Romans 2:15.  Sadly, many people’s consciences are seared.  They deliberately refuse to accept that right and wrong originate with God.  They get so accustomed to sin that they ignore the cries of their conscience.  They have hardened their hearts against righteousness, loving all lawlessness.

The Bible tells us about the first sin in the Garden of Eden.  We know that sin originated with Eve when the Serpent's words tempted her.  She listened to the Serpent instead of obeying what God had said not to do.  "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." (Genesis 3:6)

The Bible account portrays man as created in all righteousness without sin.  Most theologians theorize that the first sin corrupted Adam and Eve and gave them a depraved nature, “total hereditary depravity” which they have passed on to us.  Romans 5:12-20 is one of their favorite Scriptures to support their error. This is the first of the five points of Calvinism and is commonly called “original sin.”   Although they will not deny that man was created without sin, they still affirm that because of Adam and Eve’s sin (also known as “the fall”), man is now a sinner.  "For as through the one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous."  (Romans 5:19). The book of Romans says nothing about a corrupt nature, yet they say that man by nature is always finding himself entirely "depraved" of the holiness or sanctity that is required in the Law of God.  They also claim that man is inevitably inclined to do evil and therefore under just condemnation, without defense or excuse.  This is what their church creeds and manuals state.  It is disturbing to say, but many of my brethren buy into this false teaching to one degree or another.  What these don’t want to accept is that Eve’s biggest problem was listening to Satan.
"But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ."  (2 Corinthians 11:3). 

Eve lusted, and sin was conceived.
"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren."  (James 1:13-16).  

It is lust that gets man in trouble to sin.  Eve blamed the Serpent and Adam blamed Eve (Genesis 3:12-13).  The truth is that Adam and Eve sinned in spite of all their excuses.  The Serpent was cursed as well as the ground because of man, Genesis 3:17-18.  Adam and Eve were not cursed but sentenced with mercy and hope, Genesis 3:14-15.  We know that the woman was sentenced in Genesis 3:16. Adam was also sentenced or condemned in Genesis 3:17-19.  They were cast out of the garden, Genesis 3:22-24.  Many of our friends believe that there is a big problem with what is right and wrong because of the "fall." They say that the mind and conscience of men were impaired by that first sin.  And for this reason, the conscience does not work as well as it used to before Adam and Eve fell into sin.  This is absurd!  They seem to ignore what Romans 5:12 says. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Genesis 8:21; James 1:13-15; Isaiah 59:1-2;  2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6; 14:12,23; Ezekiel 18:4,20; 28:15; Matthew 18:3; Acts 17:28-29;  Romans 7:9; Galatians 4:4;  James 4:17; I John 3:4; 5:17; Ecclesiastes 7:29 and 12:14).

  • How Do We Know Right and Wrong?
So, who is "right" about right and wrong?  This question actually boils down to a more foundational question:  What is Truth?  We won't know what is true unless we know the right thing to do in any given situation or in decision-making about education, morality or social behavior.  Sadly, in our society, their understanding of Truth has dramatically shifted with ambiguity and confusion.  Many people in the world today have their standards of morality turned upside down. They don't know right from wrong anymore.  The Bible tells us that sin is sin, and that it must never be considered "right" or "excusable." All sin is simply sin.  Isaiah 5:20 stresses that it is wrong to say that something "wrong" is "right."
 "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"

Although the majority has not acknowledged or served God for centuries, they still have assumed a standard of right and wrong, good and evil.  Some have argued that "good" is whatever makes one happy while others argue that "good" is the happiness of the greatest number.  Of course, both claims are wrong.  The Bible reveals that God and good are inseparable, that is, serving and doing good to others.  They are the first and second commandments (Matthew 22:37-39).  As James wrote,
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."  (James 1:27).  

Pure religion is ethical, for it exhibits the will of God and insists on loving our neighbor as a fundamental part of loving God.  Right and wrong are determined by God, for He has called us to be holy in our behavior toward Him and others.  It is God who determines what is morally right or wrong.  Christians must follow the teachings or doctrines of Christ and not the feelings of society, or the changing fashions of the moment.  We must obey God rather than men!  The Word of God is our standard for considering what is morally pure or impure, for it instructs us in righteousness, equipping us for every good work (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:5-7; Hebrews 5:14).  Many use clever reasoning to justify their conduct contrary to what God demands.  We must not serve God according to human doctrine or philosophy!  Human doctrine differs from God's will.  People use human reasoning to justify behavior that God has condemned.  For example, though society agrees that murder is wrong, they are still in turmoil over other situations.  Some reason that murder is good if it is the murder of the unborn baby who might be handicapped or born into poverty, conceived out of wedlock or as the result of rape.  Others justify killing the elderly or the ill, so they help them kill themselves.  They reason that they are helping them escape suffering and becoming a burden to others.  Germany, for instance, justified the Holocaust, claiming that certain groups of people did not deserve to live.  But God's Word clearly declares that those who commit murder will end up in the lake of fire, not in heaven (Rev. 21:8; 22:15).  Nowhere in God's Word do we see God making an exception, and justifying the murder of the elderly, the sick and the unborn!  Rather, He has commanded us to have mercy and compassion toward them to help them through their hardships.  To justify murdering such people is to disobey God's Word, arguing that the end justifies the means.

Some will agree that it is better to remain virgin, that is, remain pure and chaste before marriage, but our society seems to be confused and in turmoil about this.  Many of our young people justify premarital sexual relations and living together without a marriage license as long as they love each other. It is good and just in their eyes because they get to know each other better to find out whether or not they are “compatible.”  This ungodly mindset is outrageous!!  They have really cheapened and degraded the concept of love to justify their immoral and sinful behavior.  Why not obey God and His commands and get married?  The saddest part of this is that I have seen some of my brethren support this worldly view among family members!  Many in our culture justify marriage even between two people of the same gender, for they say "What can be wrong if they love each other?"  But guess what?  God's Word says that intimacy (sexual union) must be between a man and a woman who are married, not outside of marriage, for God said so in Genesis 2:24; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9-11Thus, any other relationship outside of marriage is fornication or adultery.  Anyone who is a fornicator or a homosexual can never enter the gates of heaven or the kingdom of God!  Others have the nerve to claim that a married couple can get a divorce if they're unhappy in their marriage.  Some churches have even justified some members arguing that God has called us to peace, so they encourage divorce or separation.  Others justify remaining in marriages that are not authorized by God, claiming that it would cause severe hardship.  But Matthew 19:9, declares that the only authorized Scriptural ground for divorce is if one of the spouses commits fornication.  So anyone who divorces for any other reason but the one that God has authorized cannot remarry unless one of the spouses has died or fornicated.  If they remarry, they will be committing adultery, and God will judge them!  There are many other Bible principles and guidelines for examining moral issues that determine what conduct or behavior is moral or immoral, right or wrong.  The Word of God is the only absolute standard of authority that reveals God's will about right from wrong.

The ethics of right and wrong are fundamental to the Truth.  But we have a choice to obey the ethics or not.  Some Christians struggle with the question of right and wrong.  As a consequence of this, we have a people who call evil good and good evil, Isaiah 5:20.  Man from the very beginning has struggled with the question of what is right and what is wrong.  We have many examples of this in the Bible as in the case of Judges 17:6. "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes."

Consider the two following views:
    • Right and Wrong Originate With God:
This is the most common and logical explanation.  It makes moral standards objective.  So the question is, which god and which set of ethics?  Does God command things because they are right? Or are they right because He is commanding them?

The Bible certainly affirms the Truth of what is right and wrongHow do we know that we are right?  Well, there must be a fear of God to understand and respect the authority of God.  It is the fear of the Lord that will make a man submit or surrender to the will of God, to His teachings, to His statutes, to His Law, Eccles. 12:13. Moreover, we are to serve God with all of our heart.  True devotion to God and His Truth is necessary for us to know what is right, the right way.
"Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding."  (Proverbs 23:23). 

So often, Christians profess a love for God’s Truth until that same Word, Truth, starts contradicting their own prejudices or beliefs.  They prefer to sell the Truth when it is not convenient any longer.  Instead of humbly submitting to that Truth, surrendering our will to the will of God.  The only way we know we are right is by testing everything we do in word and deed with the Word of God.  Rather than depending on our own feelings, views, opinions, habits or traditions.  This is our sole standard, and we must trust in His will.
"Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way."  (Psalm 119:128).

We are faithful, true to Him by testing all doctrines and practices with the Word of God.  When we start refusing, ignoring, or corrupting God’s Word, we begin doing wrong.
"But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."  (I Thess. 5:21-22).
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."  (2 Timothy 2:15).

On the other hand, there is the other view.

  • Ethics Are True Without Any Need of God:
They go so far as to say that ethics are “true” just like any other field.  They use mathematics as an example to say that Truth does not depend on God or His Word.  They claim that the universe and truth are more than physical and that there is something metaphysical somewhere out there that they refuse to admit. It is difficult to see how these objective ethics can be known to be true.  The fact is that most atheists believe in the same ethical code of standards as we Christians.

The unbelievers forget that there can be no ethics without God because:
  1. He is the authority behind all ethics.  Therefore, we know what is true or right.
  2. God has provided us with the Truth that one day He will judge all men according to their deeds, whether they were good or evil.  We will be called to account.  This is a fact!  
These are two things nonbelievers or atheists, cannot be sure of.  But for Christians, we can certainly be sure.  Almost everyone will agree that there is good and there is evil.  But many will disagree on what is right and wrong.  They often change their views or opinions on what is good or evil.  One good example of this is Adolf Hitler.  Many Germans thought that he was a good leader.  Today many Germans believe he was an evil man.  You see, man cannot agree on who is evil or good.  One of the most absurd philosophies invented by man is that Adam’s fall or “original sin,” is the cause of this confusion. It is the belief that all men are born without the ability to understand what is good or evil, even by reading the Sacred Word. There is no such claim in the Bible, and there was no “original” sin.  Period!


III.  WHAT IS GOOD AND WHAT IS EVIL?

This is a crucial question.  Why?  Because if you don’t know what is good or evil, right or wrong, then you are going to do the wrong things.  You are going to sin and live your life as a lawless person, a sinner.  So, how can one answer the question of what is good or what is evil? There are several possible answers.
  1. Our consciences:  That part of our minds that makes us feel bad and sorry when we do wrong or sin.  Without a doubt, the conscience can be helpful. It is a gift of God.  But it is not reliable to the man who is ignorant of God’s will and does not love righteousness but loves lawlessness.  Our minds or hearts can deceive us. Therefore, this technique will not work.
  2. Our opinions or views:  As I pointed out earlier, one’s opinion or view can change at any moment.  We must be aware that our views or beliefs are often established by those who have power over us, such as our media and public schools.  Imagine the effect of these powerful influences when they're wielded by evil and lawless people who deceive millions of people every day telling them what to believe.  Sadly, many come to believe and do what is wrong and sinful.  This is happening in our nation with increasing frequency. As you can see, this is not a good way to decide if something is right or wrong.
  3. Telling everyone to do those things that make them happy:  The problem with this mindset is that many are happy when they hurt others.  If we only do those things that make us happy, then we definitely are not going to care about the happiness of others.  At the same time, man does not always know what will make him truly happy.  Therefore, this approach does not help either.
  4. Telling everyone to do those things that would make others happy and that would bless them:  This idea seems to be more reasonable than the other ones.  But there is still a problem.  Why?  Because no one seems to be aware of what kind of things would make some people happy without making others unhappy.  It is true that we may do things hoping that others will be happy and blessed.  However, making people happy is not always good.  For example, one can give a child a lot of candy to make him happy, but it might make him sick as well. Therefore, this is not a good way to determine right and wrong.

The problem with all of the above answers is that man wants to rely on himself to determine what is right or wrong and good or evil rather than God.  This is called “humanism.”  Why?  Because when men control the judgment of what is right and wrong, they become gods themselves.  They are replacing God with themselves.  One of the problems with “humanism” is that men want to remove God from His absolute power to determine what is right and what is wrong.  God is the only one who has absolute power to dictate what is right or wrongIt is not for man to decide or determine what is right or wrong.  Period!  Those that make their own system of laws become their own “god.”  This is precisely where “humanism” is wrong. So, what is the best way to determine what is evil?  The answer is simple, the Word of God, His revealed Truth.  God has revealed His will to man through His inspired Word.
“May it never be!  Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”  (Romans 3:4).
This Truth, if accepted, would solve all the confusion, problems and contradictions of ethics that plague our society today.  When one abandons what God has said or declared, there are drastic consequences. Consider the following text.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!”  (Isaiah 5:20-21).
God has demonstrated His righteousness by instituting a system of laws that define what is right and wrong.  The righteousness of God contains ethics and summarizes them in His Book.  His Word expresses and establishes His righteousness. The world is at war and in conflict with Truth and right.  They don’t seem to realize that the Bible has all the answers concerning the issues of war, sexual behavior, drug use, civil responsibilities, gender roles, tolerance of opposing views and a multitude of other moral issues.
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”  (John 3:19-21).
When a man lives by the ethic supplied in the revealed Word of God, he is a law-keeper.  Why?  Simply, because he is behaving in a way that is in accord with the laws of God.  That means he is going to abide by the law of the land as long as these don’t conflict with God’s laws, Romans 13:3The Word of God resolves all matters of ethics in our society.


IV.   IS LOVE ALWAYS THE RIGHT THING TO DO?
"And He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.'"  (Matthew 22:37-40).
God's laws or commands are fulfilled when we love God, His Way and our neighbor as ourselves. God’s Word teaches us true love for God and our neighbor. True love will always fulfill God's Law (Romans 13:10).  Yet our culture does not view love as a moral ethic but rather a feeling or emotion.  Our Lord introduced a unique love which is the absolute giving of one's self for others even to the point of death.  The love of this world can never compare with the love of God, for He so loved the world that He gave His only Son for us (John 3:16).  We know love, for He laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16).  The love revealed in God's Word is not sentimental, impractical, or dependent upon our mood but rather it is the moral “ought” or duty behind our actions (1 John 4:11).  There is no doubt that love is always the right thing to do.  Again, almost everyone would agree on this.  The problem is that love has different definitions for many people.  This leads me to two critical questions:  What is love?  And who am I supposed to love?  Again, the Bible has all the answers to these questions.  First of all, we are to love God and to love our neighbor as our self. Second, we are to love His Word with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  It is the revealed Word of God that teaches us how to love Him and our neighbor.  All this can be accomplished by keeping His laws.

In the ’60s there was a band called “The Beatles” who sang a song called “All You Need is Love.”  Everyone would agree, except that they used the word with a double meaning.  The type of love they express is not the kind of love our Lord and Savior spoke of in His Law.  We all agree that love is good.  Yet, many misinterpret what love is.  God defines love differently.  We know that we love God when we keep His commandments, precepts, statutes, His Word.  How do we love our neighbor?  By keeping or following God's commandments.  The one who loves God and His commandments is well thought of even by those outside the church, I Timothy 3:7. He practices the Bible concept of love.  He seeks the welfare of all. He behaves in a manner worthy of his callingHe is a giver, selfless and generally well-liked and respected by others, even by those who are not Christians.  Such a person will always do the right thing because they love and obey God’s lawsHe will manifest such love in his marital relationship, his home, and children, the church as well as in his community as a law-abiding citizen.  The one who claims to love God also avoids all types of destructive behavior: alcoholism, drunkenness, drug abuse, infidelity, promiscuity, enmity, covetousness, and all licentious behavior.  He is sober-minded, patient, kind, merciful, gentle, godly, well respected by those who acknowledge a true concept of love, as it demonstrates right and wrong, good and evil.


V.   WHAT ARE THE BASES OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS?

We live in a culture that has been morally corrupted.  As time has passed, our values, morals, and attitudes have strayed from and clashed with the Divine NormWhy do many Christians struggle with questions of right and wrong?  Because our neighbors call evil good and good evil.  Those who reject the faith of Christ, mock God just like Goliath mocked David. They are not interested in what the Gospel has to offer.  They have become antagonistic toward the laws of God, His principles of righteousness.  Take for example the current attitudes toward homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and abortion.  Our society considers these moral principles as hateful, intolerant and destructive.  Ironically, what once was accepted by almost everybody as moral, honorable, law-abiding and righteous, is now reproved, reprimanded and scolded.  I am sorry to say, but many Christians are abandoning these principles of righteousness that set apart their faith.  They have embraced the ethics of the world, just like the ancient Israelites who adopted the idolatrous practices of their pagan neighbors. The same was true of the Corinthians, who tolerated fornication, I Corinthians 5.

Mankind has always struggled with what is right and wrong.  In the book of origins, Genesis, God had instructed both Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil lest they die. Eve disobeyed when she was enticed by the Serpent, Satan, Gen. 3:4-5He called evil good.  Eve was deceived, and sin entered her heart.  Throughout human history, man has always done what is right in his own eyes.  The study of ethics has been perverted and dominated by philosophical schools of thought that originate in the minds of men.  The Bible defines this as folly Why?  Because it is foolish for a man to allow his philosophical efforts to determine or establish what is right or wrongProverbs 14:12 states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.”  It is impossible for any man with little discernment of the Bible to righteously decide what is good and what is evil.  Jeremiah declares, “I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself; nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23).  It is imperative for Christians to respond to all the conflicts between worldly morals and Bible morals with a proper understanding of the origins of our ethics.  The Christian ethic is established by the God of heaven.  He is the only authority that can proclaim what is right and wrong, good and evil. And we as Christians must accept His divine norm.

Notice how Paul preached to the Athenians, in Acts 17:18-30 Epicurean and Stoic philosophers confronted Paul, v. 18.  These Epicureans believed in hedonistic ethical philosophy.  They thought that true pleasure harmonized with virtue.  Their primary goal was to pursue pleasure or happiness.  Paul’s answer to these philosophers was that God “commands men that they should all everywhere repent.” Verse 30. I am sure this sounded foolish to them.  Why?  Because their standards of right and wrong were governed by their own impulses or pleasure.  The Stoics viewed peace of mind as the greatest virtue, the mastery of the will.  The problem with their philosophy is that if one cannot control his emotions and desires, he will never have the necessary peace for self-fulfillment.  And while there might be a little bit of truth in their concept of "self-control," as in I Corinthians 9:25, "Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable," they are still distorting the concept.  They believed that intimacy and fleshly desire were the most significant impediments to peace and to be avoided, instead of acknowledging the virtue of fidelity within marriage, I Corinthians 7:3-5; Hebrews 13:4.  Paul addressed the issue of their asceticism saying, “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”  (Colossians 2:23).

In our culture today, many sympathize with these Stoic philosophers.  They keep creating new ethical philosophies. They think that something is virtuous, ethical or righteous if the end justifies the meansIf the result of any act is positive, even acts such as lying, stealing and murdering, they consider it just and right.  The good news is that the Bible is filled with examples of moral absolutes.  In Galatians 5:19-21, we have an extensive list of things which are absolutely unacceptable and sinful.  Today, postmodern philosophers believe that the whole idea of ethics is absurd.  They argue that the concept of right and wrong is misguided.  As a tragic result, many will accept whatever is dictated by those who are in power, without judging the fundamental moral rightness or wrongness of their dictates.  Abortion, for example, is accepted and right because it is lawful.  The same is true with euthanasia, homosexuality and other similar issues.  If the majority of society allows it, it is accepted as right.  A significant portion of our people now approve the mutilation of men who would prefer to be seen as women. They likewise look the other way when parents mutilate their little girls to please a certain Mohammedan tradition. Our culture describes homosexuality as a mental disorder, alternate behavior, or simply a normal expression of sexual behavior.  God’s absolute standards become a joke!  His laws are reduced to no more than suggestions where lawlessness and confusion rule.

Without a doubt, our society’s view of ethics has completely changed our culture's moral principles of righteousness in our nation and the world.  In fact, it has evolved to the point of denying all traditional Christian views of righteousnessSacred morals are widely criticized by the apparent majority as hateful and destructive.  Our Lord Jesus was so right when He said to his disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19).  But thanks be to God, we have His eternal Word that is available to all men who will heed His words.  “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”  (I Timothy 4:16).

We as Christians must hold fast to our ethical conduct, values, morals, as the faithful generations who have gone before us.  What was right back then, as defined by God, is right today, and what was wrong then, as determined by God, is wrong today.  We must not forsake God’s Word which is able to establish what is right and wrong, His righteousness!  Christians cannot escape being criticized, mocked and perhaps persecuted for all those divine morals or standards which we deliberately embrace from God’s Divine Word.  It is unavoidable!  But we must be like those true and faithful Christians of the first century.  Jesus said, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21).  Thus, let us embrace what the Psalmist said, “As for the deeds of men, by the word of Your lips I have kept from the paths of the violent. My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet have not slipped.” (Psalm 17:4-5).


CONCLUSION:

The Word of God offers to mankind a pattern for human conduct, for it gives us clear principles of righteousness to help us in all areas of conduct or behavior.  The Bible offers us a bright light to walk the straight path, for it is filled with God's Truth for "such a time as this," (2 Peter 1:12; Esther 4:14).  The Grace of God has appeared to us to bring salvation to us, teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts so that we may live soberly, righteously and holy in this godless world (Titus 2:11-14).  And though man's standards might change, presumptuously calling all evil good and good evil, placing darkness for light and light for darkness, the Word of God is settled in heaven forever (Isa. 5:20).  His Word has called all men to life and godliness.  Sadly, our culture does not fear God and makes little effort to follow God's principles of righteousness.  They even mock God's authority!  But Christ's disciples have no other choice but to submit to His Lordship and rule.  For if we willingly reject His standards of righteousness, we are in the same position as our godless and pagan cultureIf we really care about God's standards and morals, we must start doing God's will, for we must obey God rather than men!  We must not be conformed to our godless culture but rather choose to be transformed by the renewing of our minds into our Lord's likeness (Romans 12:2).  Since we have risen with Christ in the waters of baptism, we must seek God's heavenly things, not earthly things, for we have been buried with Christ (the old man of sin) and our life is hidden with Him.  So we must continue to walk His straight path of righteousness, keeping our eyes on Him alone and not on this world of sin and lawlessness.  Although our godless culture might condone lawlessness and sinful practices (sexual immorality, dancing, immodesty, profanity, gambling, drinking alcohol, smoking and many sins such as these), we Christians must come out and be separate from them (2 Cor. 6:17).  We must start teaching and training our children in the way of the Lord, and we must pray to God for guidance and wisdom.  Of course, godly parents must model this in their daily life.

Our godless generation has sinned against God by legalizing sins such as abortion, drug abuse, pornography, fornication, adultery, and homosexuality.  As our pagan culture legalizes and accepts these sins, bigger and catastrophic things will confront our nation or society.  And though we Christians may become strangers in a lawless and hostile world, we must remain faithful to God in Word and deed.  But we also must continue teaching the Gospel Message, showing patience and compassion toward sinners that they might repent and be reconciled to God.  We cannot afford to be silent on moral issues or compromise our faith!  In every generation, God's Word can determine what is right, wrong, good and evil, that which is excellent (Phil. 1:10).  We must continue teaching God's holiness and righteousness to our profane and godless culture without compromising God's TruthIt is time for God's children to unsheathe the Sword of the Spirit, moving forward to fight against our society's moral decay.  We must cry aloud, lifting our voices like a trumpet, showing all people their transgressions and sinsRemember that the battle is the Lord's, and God is among us to help us fight against all evil! (Romans 8:31).

Imagine for a moment a world that denies standards; a world where there are no absolutes; where everyone makes up their own rules and where no one accepts something to be true unless they decide it’s true on their own. Imagine a world where people believe there’s actually no such thing as objective truth. Imagine a world where no one is really in charge – where everyone just does as he sees fit – what’s right in his own eyes!
"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."  (Judges 17:6).
"In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes."  (Judges 21:25). 

Imagine a world that doesn’t accept absolutes.  A world where someone might say, “What’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for me.” Picture a society where everyone is afraid to speak up because they are intimidated, feeling no right to impose a standard on anyone else.  Envision a culture where, rather than trying to teach what’s right and wrong, our philosophical teachers just tell us what’s right and wrong, because, after all, everyone’s situation is different. Imagine a world where telling the Truth is good when it is convenient, sometimes, but where lying is also considered a good thing, sometimes. So, if you have a hard time picturing a world like that, then, tonight, watch TV for one hour; tomorrow, visit your kids at school; read a newspaper; interact all day in social media and get out more. The truth is we’re in it!  It is a clear and present danger! It is called relativism.  Relativism is the belief that there are no absolutes in life, for everything depends on one's circumstances, and everything is “relative” to one's situation in life.  It becomes what’s known as “situationism” or “subjectivism.”  Our people say rules don’t matter at all; that there are no rules, and no one has any rights to make them. Where has this mindset taken us today?  Our godless culture claims that "individual feelings" are the most important thing there is and that each man is a law unto himself known as humanism.  In other words, there is no wrong decision, for there is no right or wrong.  But the Truth is that it does matter what we choose to do whether it is right or wrong.  It is a terrible thing to see the blind leading the blind!

God’s Word assumes there are absolutes.  God's unchanging Word and principles are given to us in absolute terms.  Words like "always" and "never" and "all" and "none" and "forever" and "whoever" and "everyone" don't leave room for subjectivismThus there are absolutes in God’s Word, for it doesn’t say, “In some situations, liars will be cast into the lake of fire…” “Depending on the situation, homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God…” “In most situations, I will never leave you or forsake you.” God speaks in absolutes about Himself and what He demands from us.  There is such a thing as absolute Truth. There is a standard. There is a right and a wrong. There is a perfect measure. God has given us a standard to live by.  He has given us His perfect Son, for He lived a sinless life. Our Lord is our ultimate standard, for He lived a perfect life.  He was without sin. That means He always did what was right, for it was always the most loving thing to do. That’s why Jesus died for you and for me, taking away the punishment we deserved.  In Ephesians 4:13-15, we have been given an exhortation that we must follow,
"…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."

Take away the standards, and the result is chaos.  But when we learn to recognize them for what they are, we can live them out, together, into the beautiful picture that God intends for us to follow.  Thus, we must advocate God's standards or principles of righteousness to see the difference it will make in our society.  The foundation on which our ethics are built is God's revealed Word, the Bible.  God has revealed and pointed out in the Bible what mankind must learn, to learn His ways and walk in them (Hos. 14:9).  His ways are always right!  God has given Jesus all authority (Matt. 28:18).  Jesus' doctrine is our only standard of moral authority where all moral rightness is found.  His teachings or doctrines will be our final judge on that final day.  The Bible addresses every aspect of life and conduct.  Anyone who accepts God’s inspired Word will be able to hold the same ethical conduct and morals: the perfect standard.  The Word of God is our only source of Truth for discerning right and wrong, good and evil.  But we must fear Him to understand and honor His authority with complete surrender to His will.  We must test all doctrines and practices against that Divine Word.  This is the only way we are going to remain faithful to Him.  When we rebel against that Word, we begin to do wrong or sinLet us embrace His Word heartily and not be condemned.  That is the key to our salvation.  In His infinite love for us, our God has revealed His plan for our salvation.  We can know for sure what church is the right one because He has described it to us.  The same is true of the right kind of worship, the right way of living, what is sinful and what is righteous.  God has revealed all this to us in His Divine Book.   And yes, we can know with certainty who is right and wrong, good and evil!  God has given us His absolute, perfect laws which are intended to be used by all men at all times.  It is wrong, it is a sin, to disobey them.  His laws are the foundation of the Law of Christ.  We must use them to govern our societies and ourselves lest we perish!  Let us listen to them!
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

May the Lord help us to discern right from wrong, and good from evil according to His Sacred Word.

Luci