Today’s modern worldviews have led many to believe that humans are more moral than the “God” of the Bible, while some have dismissed the Creator altogether. Changes in our society that were initially put forward as benevolent and inclusive movements for humankind are now leading to an outright rejection of God! While human beings are portrayed as loving, caring, wonderful people, the “God” of the Old Testament is said to be hateful, uncaring, prejudiced and unfair. Really? Are we more moral than God?
THE BIBLE – INSPIRED OR A FRAUD?
Christianity began as a movement based on the strong foundation that the Bible was the true and inspired word from the Creator of heaven and earth. Over time, such a view has eroded and many who call themselves ‘Christian’ are now hacking away at the very foundation on which they once stood. Yet the Bible makes the following claims,
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
“Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21
And the Bible accurately predicted:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 3:3-4
So, the Bible doesn’t claim to be just the writings of men, but the actual word of God! Either the Bible’s claims of inspiration are true and authoritative, or the whole book is a fraud based on outrageous lies. If the Bible is a fraud, then Christianity has no basis on which to call itself a viable religion.
On the other hand, if the Bible is divinely inspired and God is really who He says He is, then as the Creator and sustainer of our lives He has full authority upon which to set the standards. What standard has He set?
GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR HIS CREATION
God’s first command to humans was, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,” Genesis 1:28. He stated that He longs for the day when, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14. God’s purpose with His creation is to have a family that loves and respects Him, trusts that His guidance is right and reflects His values. Most parents would desire the same for their children. Our Father yearns for a relationship with us as a parent for a child… even His wayward children, and knows what is best for those He created, pleading, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:17-18 (NIV)
We are wonderfully designed to do many things which are immensely enjoyable and fulfilling. However, as human beings we have struggled from the very beginning to trust that our Creator has our best interests at heart, and because of this, we are no longer in the ‘very good’ condition in which God first created Adam and Eve. We are living in a ‘fallen state’, which is prone to sin.
OUR FALLEN STATE
There are various lists in the Bible, of behaviors that are against God’s values and purpose for His Creation. Everyone of us will surely relate to one or more of the tendencies listed, and realize that without self-restraint, those ‘fallen’ tendencies could cause us to harm ourselves or others. For instance, if someone has a natural tendency to lie and doesn’t try hard to be an honest person, they will deceive and lead people astray, often hurting themselves and others. Or if someone has a fierce temper and doesn’t learn to restrain their emotions, they will no doubt say or do things that will be harmful and destructive and fill their lives with deep regret. If a hot-headed person, a liar, a thief, or a murderer pleads that everyone should just ‘accept me as I am – I can’t change’, this is unlikely to console those they have wounded, or be accepted in a Court of Law.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DESIRES AND ACTIONS
God recognizes that we are in this ‘fallen state’ ever since Genesis 3. He knows and expects that we will make mistakes. He does not consider our ‘desires’ to be sinful – but holds us accountable for our wrongful actions. As it says in James 1:12-15, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him… But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Having a natural desire to do something that is against God’s will is not counted against us, and nor should we count it against others. It is sin when we give in to a wrongful desire and act on it. This is a very important distinction to make! Temptation itself isn’t sin; Jesus himself was tempted like we are, and yet was sinless (Hebrews 4:15). Sin is ‘missing the mark’ that God has set.
While God’s Law states, “the wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23 (KJV), He has also provided the ultimate sacrifice for reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19) – giving His beloved and fully obedient Son over to the brutality of envious men who put Jesus Christ to death. Because Jesus was a sinless man and therefore not deserving of death, he broke the cycle of ‘sin and death’ when God raised him from the dead. This declared God’s righteousness (Romans 3:25-26). When we faithfully associate ourselves with Christ through baptism (Romans 6, Galatians 3), we too have the hope of forgiveness of sins and the promise of a resurrection to life. This is why Romans 6:23 goes on to say, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can’t earn it, we don’t deserve it – it’s a FREE GIFT – for sinners!
However… and this is the big ‘however’ that often gets overlooked – sin must be acknowledged, confessed and an attempt made to forsake it in order for us to receive forgiveness.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10
Therefore, if we wish to find forgiveness from God, or if we wish to encourage others to find forgiveness and be granted His free gift of eternal life, it is very important that we recognize our Heavenly Father’s divine standard of right from wrong. To tell someone they can keep on sinning in whatever way – drunkenness, adultery, violence, stealing, etc. , and that God will accept them ‘just as they are’, will mislead them, causing them to lose the opportunity NOW to seek for forgiveness and eternal life. Such misleading… perhaps even by very compassionate, caring people, has occurred in the past:
“You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Malachi 2:17
“Because you have disheartened the righteous falsely, although I have not grieved him, and you have encouraged the wicked, that he should not turn from his evil way to save his life…” Ezekiel 13:22-23
DON’T BE DECEIVED
The New Testament warns us not to be deceived about moral issues… which indicates that deception on these matters is very likely! Yet, we are provided with the comforting promise that if we do our part to struggle against sin, and seek forgiveness through Christ Jesus when we fail, we will find grace and mercy.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (ESV)
All these sins can be forgiven in Christ when we seek God’s salvation acknowledging His way is right.
THE BIGGER PICTURE THAT MANY DON’T SEE
Eternal life is at stake for us and for others. If we want to find forgiveness and life beyond the grave, we will try to conquer lustful desires that God has forbidden and do our best to overcome – NOT provide ourselves with ample opportunity for indulgence (Romans 13:14). There are some desires that humans must fulfill in order to live – like eating food to satisfy hunger. But not all desires have to be satisfied immediately, or at all! There are desires that people have chosen not to pursue for various reasons, and have not only survived, but thrived – IF they have a ‘bigger’ picture in mind. For example, if you’re craving an ice cream sundae, it will be hard to resist unless you are hoping to win the big race the next day, or see lower numbers on your weigh scale. It’s the same with any desire we might want to overcome. Hebrews 11 is full of accounts of those who gave up desires or endured great suffering because they had their eyes on the prize! Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish:” (KJV) If we find it hard to give up something for God, perhaps we don’t fully appreciate the amazing promises God has made for the future. In that case, we may need to do a deeper investigation into what He has offered.
Paul gave up most earthly desires, and faced intense suffering because of his choices, yet he concluded: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him… that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11
Paul also said:
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” Colossians 3:2-5
It was for the ‘joy set before him’ that Jesus endured terrible suffering on the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2). He gave up marriage and children, owning a home, having a career, etc.. even though these things aren’t ‘sinful’. He had a direct connection to God and knew more than any of us about the amazing future promises, and he was fully confident that living forever in the Kingdom of God was far better that fulfilling any temporal desires. Therefore he was willing to have a short life, full of rejection and deprivation. Now he lives forever and sits on the right hand of His Father! Soon he will be coming back to be the King of the world!
OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO OTHERS
Indulging our desires is not a guarantee for happiness, contrary to what the world tells us, and in many circumstances indulgence leads to misery. And if we want to help others to have a part in God’s promises and find forgiveness, we will recognize the need to speak up for God’s morality in an encouraging, empathetic, humble way, regardless of what laws this world may put in place. In the First Century, the Jewish lawmakers tried to command the disciples to stop preaching the good news about Jesus Christ. They were threatened with imprisonment, beatings and death, and yet, Peter boldly stated: “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29
For those who choose to follow Jesus Christ, he encourages us with these words:
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Revelation 3:21
If you would like to do a more thorough study on God’s definition of morality in the Bible, especially in regards to ‘sexual sins’, click on the following Discovery Lesson “God’s Morality vs. 21st Century Morality”
All passages are from the ESV or KJV unless otherwise noted.