by Roland W. Keith
Are you a moral person? Most of us certainly think of ourselves as such. But on what do we base that opinion? Various nations, cultures, religious groups, and social organizations throughout history have had quite different ideas on what a moral person looks like. Principles of right and wrong have varied widely, and standards of right behavior seem to shift as often as the wind. On what is your doctrine or basic law of moral conduct, that is acceptable behavior, based? Is it the writings of an elitist eighteenth-century philosopher? The latest and greatest self-help guru? The present day what-ever-makes-me-feel-good, what-ever-appeals-to-me philosophy? Or is it something more substantial? More stable, time tested and true?
For the Christian morality is based on sound doctrine. And, sound doctrine is the immutable word of God. As the apostle Paul wrote his young protégé, Timothy, “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” (II Timothy 3:16, 17). Our morality, properly understood, is based on the righteousness of God, to be clearly distinguished from the self-righteousness often exhibited by those who try to persuade us to compromise our values to accommodate their behavior. To them we are wise to reply according to the words of Solomon: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
This understanding, then, requires the one who would follow Christ to turn away from previous held philosophies and behaviors in order to conform to the will of God, as Paul wrote the Ephesians:
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:17-32).
According to Paul this sound doctrine requires us to be sober-minded, self-controlled, sound in faith, love, and steadfastness. Additionally, Christians are to be reverent, truthful, kind, and pure. Moreover, we are to be involved in the proper instruction of our young, modeling good works, integrity and dignity (Titus 2:1-7). Not only are we to model right behavior among one another, but we are to be an example to all around us (Matthew 5:16). We must also practice what we preach in truth and fairness, not unduly burdening those who are subject to our authority (Matthew 23:2-4). And, always we are to be not only fair in authority, but honest when we are in subjection to another (Titus 2:9, 10).
For the Christian a moral life, based on the Bible, is an imperative driven by the promises God has made to man by His grace (Ephesians 2:8, 10), and made sure through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. As Paul stated:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-14).
Through the teaching of, and adherence to, the doctrine of God we are taught to: “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:12, 14). Jesus warned:
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, “My master is delayed,” and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:42-51).
By comprehending God’s truth, we come to a state of vigilance in which we are determined to obey the commands of our King in upright living, always prepared for and awaiting His return (Matthew 25:1-13). Unlike that of the world’s, the moral base for the Christian is certain, immutable, established in perfect equality, reason, justice, and truth. And that truth is established in this one fact: “that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (I John 5:20).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.