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Lies Christians Believe (Part 2): Redefining Morality

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2011-07-03 AM
  • Lies Christians Believe
  • Sermons


Well, I invite you to turn with me again to Romans 12, which is sort of the foundation for the current series in which we find ourselves; kind of in between our expositional studies of Ephesians, which we finished this spring, and looking ahead to the fall, and the Sermon on the Mount.

I want to continue today to look at the issues of, the issue rather, of "Lies Christians Believe." I don't know if you are aware of it or not, but the majority of people in America today believe that there are no moral absolutes. David Wells, the American theologian, writing in Tabletalk magazine sites the results of two national surveys. In both surveys people were asked if moral truth, if morality, is unchanging, or whether circumstances should always be considered when determining what is right to do. Only twenty-two percent of Americans surveyed thought there were moral absolutes. Sixty-four percent embraced moral relativism.

It got much worse, though, when teenagers were asked the same questions. Eighty-three percent of American teenagers believed that truth is relative, that morality is relative to the situation or circumstance. Only six percent of America's teenagers believed that there are absolute moral principles. It's a tragic day, and yet that same mindset, that same attitude, has also begun to permeate the church. The professing Christian church has followed the world in so many areas, and it continues to follow the world in this area as well.

In the survey by the Barna Research Group, 4000 people were polled. And out of those 4000 people, they sought to identify those who claim to be born-again Christians and that their faith made a difference in their daily lives, it affected how they lived. Of those who claimed that, 32% of adults who identified themselves that way, believe in moral absolutes. That's one in three, less than one in three professing Christians. Nine percent of Christian teens believe in moral absolutes, less than one in ten. Those percentages are just a little ahead of the secular world. Folks, in a world and in a church adrift, it is so important that we understand the truth of what God says about this issue.

We're in a series I've entitled, "Lies Christians Believe." And as a foundation for our study, we began the first week—and if you weren't here, I encourage you to go back and catch up, because it really lays a foundation for what we're doing in the series—but we looked at Romans 12:1-2. Specifically, in Romans 12:2, Paul makes two commands about our minds: one positive and one negative.

He begins with the negative. He says resist the thinking of our age. He says in verse two, "do not be conformed to this world," or literally "this age," that is, the period of time in which you live and its prevailing mindset. Don't let the mindset of your age conform you, shape you, push you into its mold.

Instead, (The second half of the verse is the positive command.) embrace the thinking of our God. Instead of the thinking of the age, embrace the thinking of God. Verse 2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed." The Greek word transform refers to a metamorphosis, a radical inward change in fundamental character. Be transformed, how? "By the renewing of your mind." We're to allow the Spirit of God to transform us by renewing our minds with the Word of God.

So, to follow this command that's given us here in Romans 12:2, we are, through the summer here, identifying and examining dangerous ideas that dominate the culture around us. Dangerous ideas that left unnoticed and unresisted will shape us and conform us to the mindset of the age around us.

Last time we looked at the first dangerous idea, and it is that "truth is relative." Truth is relative. There is no, this view would argue, no objective eternal universal truth. But the Bible, on the other hands, maintains exactly the opposite, and we unpacked that together. Again, if you weren't here, that message was in some ways foundational for the one we'll look at today.

Today, we come to a second dangerous lie that permeates our culture and that Christians have already been influenced by, and certainly all of us can be tempted to believe. It's this,: "there are no moral absolutes." There are no moral absolutes. Now, let's begin by looking at a basic definition. And again, let me remind you, that normally, when we're exegeting our way through a text, we start with a text of Scripture and walk our way through it.

Because I want you to understand the dangerous idea, I'm going to start by explaining it, and then we'll get to how the Scripture addresses it and answers it later in the message. So, stay with me. We're going to get there, but it's important for you to understand how we got where we are and what it means.

So, let's start with a basic definition. With this second dangerous idea, we leave the area of epistemology, or the study of knowledge, and we come to the area of ethics. Ethics is simply that branch of philosophy that deals with the principles of human conduct. It deals really with three issues, ethics does. It deals with the rightness or wrongness of specific actions. Is that action you want to do, right or wrong morally?

Secondly, it deals with your motives. Are your motives for doing that action good or bad?

And thirdly, ethics deals with the ends you're trying to accomplish. Are the ends, the fruit, the end result, is it good or bad? So, ethics, then, deals with the rightness or wrongness of certain actions, the goodness or badness of your motives in doing it, and the goodness or the badness of the ends, the goal you have in mind in doing it. That's ethics. And that's the area in which the second lie occurs.

The dangerous idea that there are no moral absolutes is a way of saying that there are no universally true moral principles to guide our actions. There are no universally true, that is, everywhere true in every circumstance, moral principles to direct our decisions. Instead, this lie says that what is right to do changes with each circumstance or situation. In light of that, it's sometimes called "situation ethics," which is more of a part of it. We'll talk about that in a moment. But this view, as a whole, is more commonly called "moral relativism."

Moral relativism. That simply means that what is right to do is relative. It's relative to who you are; it's relative to the circumstance. It's defined by those variables. What they mean by this is there're no moral absolutes at all, there is no universally morally binding law, and there are no fixed moral laws that bind all people in all times in all places. Instead, right behavior is conditioned on human choice at a moment in time. What is morally right, then, is solely your decision based on what you think is right to do in that given moment. That's moral relativism.

Moral relativism denies—this is key—denies that any action or behavior is intrinsically evil. It's only determined to be evil by the moment. You say, "Do people really believe this?" Absolutely they believe this!

Listen to the second humanist manifesto signed by many of the great minds in our culture. Listen to what they write. "We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous [that is, self-governed] and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction." You don't need God to tell you what's right. You don't need an ideology to tell you what's right. It's determined by you in the moment. You decide.

By the way, can I just say here, moral relativism is inherently self-contradictory. Because the statement that there are no moral absolutes is by definition, what? A moral absolute. There's a problem. In addition to that, moral relativism is hopelessly inconsistent, because there are almost no truly consistent moral relativists. If they are, they're in prison.

Because almost all moral relativists are moral absolutists when it comes to particular moral questions like the abuse of women and children, or stealing from them, or incest, or rape, or on and on the list goes. Now, you don't hear people talk about themselves, by and large, being moral relativists. Nobody in your work place, in your school, in your extended family, friends across the fence in your neighborhood are saying, I'm a moral relativist. At least most of them wouldn't.

So, let me tell you how this expresses itself popularly. Let me tell you what you will hear people say that identifies them, whether they know it or not, as having drunk the Kool-Aid of moral relativism. First of all, you'll hear something like this. You'll make a moral judgment, and they'll say "Well, that's your opinion." Have you ever done that? You talk to someone about an issue, a sin, a particular moral question, and they'll say "Well, that's your opinion." And everyone is entitled to, what? His own opinion. Now what does that imply? It implies that there are no moral laws to debate; instead, everything is simply your opinion against my opinion. It's all opinion. That's moral relativism.

Another expression of moral relativism is very common, you'll hear somebody say "Listen, it's okay as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else." What that says is there really is only one moral absolute, and that is you can't hurt anybody else, but if it stops short of that, it's okay. Another expression is "You have no right to judge me." What they mean is, you have no right to judge my moral decision. The other form that takes is kind of where a person doesn't want to have any courage to say something is right or wrong, and so the person says "Well, who am I to judge?" Who am I to judge? It's the ethics of humility: I'm too humble to say whether that's right or wrong.

Another popular expression of this idea in the media, you'll hear them again and again and again citing statistical data for how many people believe this moral issue and how many don't. It's really ethics by democracy. It's morality by vote. You might hear somebody say something like this, "Well, what's right for you may not be right for me. That behavior might be right for you, but that isn't my choice." So, in other words, don't try to force your values, which are yours, on me.

One that's becoming increasingly popular is, it's not a moral problem, it's a medical or a physical problem. And of course, there is an element of truth to this. Take alcoholism or drug abuse. Drugs and alcohol both begin as spiritual problems, and at some point, if you get far enough down the road, they become also a physical problem. But that's not what they mean. Perhaps you've heard the add on the radio. I occasionally listen to news radio here in the Dallas area, and there's an add that's been circulating again and again in the morning when I'm listening to the news where it's for a treatment center, a drug and alcohol treatment center here in the metroplex. And over and over again they'll say something like this: drug abuse and alcoholism are not moral problems, you don't need to be ashamed. And they redefine them as entirely medical or physical problems.

Now those are just some of the expressions of moral relativism in our culture. The question is, where did those popular ideas come from? Understand, as I made last week the point, they just don't happen. These ideas are just not free-floating. They start usually with academics. They usually start with the brightest minds writing something philosophical, and eventually it filters down to the rank and file American. So, let's back up then, and look at the philosophical background. It's important to understand. Where did this come from? Well, in this case this lie has an ancient history.

The first real champion of moral relativism was a Greek philosopher named Pythagoras. Pythagoras was an agnostic; that is, he didn't believe that you could know whether or not there was a God or gods. In fact, this is what he wrote about the gods. He said, "Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not, or what sort they may be. Many things prevent knowledge including the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life."

He said you just can't know whether there are gods or not. He lived and taught, by the way, in the 400s B.C., 400 years before Christ in Greece, particularly in Athens. His agnosticism led him also to deny moral absolutes. If there's no God, there's no divine law, there's no absolutes. And so, he denied them.

So, he was not only the father of agnosticism, he was also the father of moral relativism. You've probably heard this famous statement from Pythagoras. He wrote, "Of all things, the measure is man: of the things that are, that they are; and of the things that are not, that they are not."

What was he saying? He was saying man measures everything. Man determines both the reality of things and the rightness or wrongness of everything. That's what he taught. Even the Athenians in the city where he lived were frightened by what he taught and saw the bankruptcy of his ideas. They threw him out of Athens and burned all his works. But tragically, the ideas that Pythagoras promoted survived him and are still alive and well today.

Fast forward—and I won't spend any time here—but during the Enlightenment there were a number of philosophers that promoted this moral relativism. There was Spinoza and David Hume and others.

But the major modern support for this idea, you know where it came from? It came from Charles Darwin. In 1859, when Charles Darwin wrote his On the Origin of Species, his ideas began to evolve into a system. As his evolutionary ideas developed into that unified theory that we have today of evolution, there were a lot of Christians saying, "There's a problem here, not only with your view of origins, but also, what's going to happen with ethics? There're going to be huge ethical repercussions of your system." Darwinists, at the time, assured Christians they were crying wolf; that, listen, man doesn't need a god to be good, he can still be good because it's for the common benefit. Today, there aren't many Darwinians still saying that. The situation has radically changed. Morality has been redefined.

Think about this for a minute. Morality used to be defined by the Ten Commandments of the Jewish Bible, the Hebrew Old Testament, and by the ethics of Jesus in the New Testament. You talked about morality in America, you were talking about one of those two things, by and large. That is not true anymore.

When's the last time you heard anybody in the academic world or the political world or in any of the public forums, arguing on the basis of the Ten Commandments or the ethics of Jesus? Those have been completely replaced. To be considered moral today, you don't compare yourself to those; instead, you have to embrace a new set of moral imperatives. What are they?

Well, this isn't a comprehensive list, but let me just give you a couple. If you want to be moral in today's America, here's what you have to believe. First of all, you have to be into tolerance, refusing to pass judgment on anyone else's choices. And of course, they're tolerant for everything except those who don't go along with tolerance.

Another view is environmentalism. If you're going to be moral in America today, then you must be about preserving the planet and reducing your carbon footprint. You must be about democracy, exporting democracies everywhere else in the world. You must be about world poverty and ending world poverty. You must be about animal rights, defending the rights of animals.

Now, there are a couple of those that are Biblically-centered. Caring for the poor is certainly a Biblical priority. But that's not their idea. The idea of moral imperatives today is, don't waste your time on the outdated ethics of religion: the Ten Commandments, the ethics of Jesus. Instead, if you want to be moral, then recycle your trash and adopt a pet, and you'll be moral. It's true, isn't it? It's been completely redefined.

Now, before I leave the philosophical background, let me just mention a couple of other forms of relativism very quickly.

Situation Ethics, what is that? That is, having a good motive makes an action right. If, in a given situation, you have a good motive, then whatever you decide is right.

Utilitarianism. That's, if you have the right goal, then your action will be right, whatever you choose.

Cultural Relativism. This is, if there's a consensus in the culture then the action's right. If the people around you mostly agree that it's right—it's right. This is morality as a group construct, ethics by democracy. By the way, this is why it matters so much to the news media of how many people, what percentage of Americans, think this is right or this is right, because it's ethics by democracy. They really believe that as a culture we define the rightness or the wrongness of certain behaviors. That is an accepted philosophy.

But, I hate to tell you, homosexuality is not OK, even if a majority of Americans think it is. Abortion is not a woman's right, even if most check that box. Lying is not OK because it is generally accepted. That's moral relativism, and that's the background. That's how we got where we are.

So, how has this dangerous idea of moral relativism affected the church? Let's move on to a third issue, and that is, the lethal consequences in the church, the lethal consequences in the church. How has the great lie of moral relativism invaded, shaped, the thinking of the church? Let me just give you a couple of examples.

Number one: what the Bible calls sin is being redefined as a physical or medical issue. Much of what the Bible calls sin is being redefined as a physical or medical issue—in the church. You go into a lot of churches and you will find support groups, not always to even help people get over these things, but rather to cope with the reality of them.

For example,: drunkenness has become alcoholism, homosexuality has become sexual identity or sexual orientation, lust has become sexual addiction, and on and on the list goes. We've taken what the Bible says is a sin, and we've turned it over into a completely medical or physical issue. And that's happening in the church.

A second lethal consequence (And this goes along with the first one.),: the Bible is being reinterpreted to deny that certain behaviors are sin. Let me show you how this has happened with just one sin, and I'm not saying one sin is worse than any others. In a very real sense sin is sin. Although there is a hierarchy of sin in the Scripture.

Let's take homosexuality. This is an-apparent issue in the church today. Dan Kimball, who is a pastor of an emergent church in Santa Cruz, California, and is on the speaking circuit (conferences all across the country), he wrote a book called They Like Jesus but Not the Church, talking about the secular world. In that book he writes this,

"I sometimes wish homosexuality weren't a sin issue, because I've met gay people who are the most kind, loving, solid, and supportive people I've ever met. Their sexual orientation isn't something they can just turn off. [He goes on to say] Because this is such a huge issue in our culture, we can no longer just regurgitate what we've been taught about homosexuality. We can no longer merely quote a few isolated verses and say, case closed."

In other words, the question of the sinfulness of homosexuality is up for debate again.

Brian McLaren, the sort of father of the emergent church, certainly the godfather of it, he writes this:

"Many of us [that is, emerging leaders] don't know what we should think about homosexuality. We've heard all sides, but no position has yet has won our confidence."

Phillip Yancey, who's an editor for Christianity Today, in his book What's So Amazing About Grace?, devotes an entire chapter to the need to extend grace to those, not only who are struggling with homosexuality, but those who can't change their homosexuality. The Bible is being redefined, so that what it calls sin is no longer called sin.

Number three, another lethal consequence, sin is widely tolerated in the church. Sin is widely tolerated. You'll hear Christians use two Biblical phrases and terribly twist them and abuse them. One of them is, judge not that you be not judged. You better not judge anybody's moral decision, moral action. The other one is from Jesus' interaction with the crowd when they bring the immoral woman to Him in John 8, and He says let him who is without sin cast the first stone. So, the idea is, if you're a sinner at all, you shouldn't say anything negative about somebody else's sin. And because of that, sin is completely tolerated. Let me tell you the first casualty: Matthew 18 and church discipline. It's gone.

Many of you are from churches, you were in churches you whole life and never saw Matthew 18 practiced. Is that because it's not in the Bible? No. It's because of moral relativism. Christians show little, if any, self-control or internal restraint, because they're not convinced it's wrong. And so, when temptation comes, it's easy to give into that temptation, to give into the influence of your peers, because the fear of God is not involved. So, there are absolutely lethal consequences of this lie that have devastated the Christian church.

But what does the Bible say? What does God say about this issue? That brings us to the fourth point we want to consider, and that is the Biblical teaching. What does the Bible say about this lie? Let me reduce what the Bible teaches to one clear sentence.:

God has revealed an objective, universal, eternal, moral law. God has revealed an objective, universal, eternal, moral law. He affirms certain behaviors with "thou shalt," and He denies certain behaviors with "thou shalt not." Now, let me unpack that a little bit. Let's consider this idea of universal, eternal, moral law. And I want to do so in two propositions. Here's what the Bible teaches about this reduced to two propositions.

Proposition number one. The ground of all morality is the character of God. The ground of all morality is the character of God. You see, morality can only come from one of three sources. It can either come from the individual, his reason or emotions; from the society, from sort of a social construct; or from the divine Law. And of course, the Bible unequivocally lands on the third choice. God's moral law is founded deep in God's own person, in an attribute the Bible calls His holiness.

Now, the Biblical concept of holiness is used in two related but distinct ways. It's very important you understand this. When you see the term—as we sang together this morning—God is holy or He has holiness, it's talking about one of two things. It may be talking, first of all, about God's transcendence in majesty; that is, His exaltation, His highness in majesty, His greatness, if you will. God is separate from His creation as a creator is separate from what he makes. OK? So, it may just be talking about His greatness in majesty. "No one is like You." You hear that refrain over and over again in the Scripture.

Secondly, His holiness may be referring to His transcendence in moral purity. One is His majesty. The other is His moral purity. Holiness not only is His separateness from us as creatures, but also His separateness from us as sinners. He is Creator; we are creatures. He is holy; we are sinners. That's what His holiness means.

Robert Reymond writes, "He is morally pure; ethically separate from sinners; infinitely, eternally, and unchangeably pure." Do you understand God is utterly, completely separate from evil and sin? You and I can't understand that.

Reminds me, when I was growing up, I went with my pastor at the time—probably an early teenager, maybe mid teenager—I went with my pastor to visit someone in the community. Wasn't a part of our church, but I forget now how we knew about this person and knew that we needed to visit them. But anyway, we showed up at this house, and this family was living in absolute squalor and filth. It had 'to have been more than a year's worth of dirty dishes that were stacked feet high on every square inch of the kitchen counter, and some down in front and around the counter. We only saw the living room and the kitchen in the small house.

So, we were there sitting in the living room. She was sitting with her—the lady of the house was sitting with her back to all of that. And I would look past her as we had this conversation and see various insects and roaches and so forth crawling all over these feet of dirty dishes from more than a year, undoubtedly, sitting behind her. But she didn't seem to notice any of that at all. She seemed perfectly comfortable with her environment. She'd never really known what true cleanliness was. She had nothing to compare it to.

In the same way, it's hard for us to grasp the concept of God's holiness. We have learned to live with unholiness and to look on it as natural and normal and expect it.

As Tozer says, "We have to allow the Scriptures to cut a new channel in the desert of our minds to see God as He is." God is morally holy.

Here's how Louis Berkhof describes God's holiness, this aspect of God's holiness.: "It is that perfection of God in virtue of which He eternally wills and maintains His own moral excellence, abhors sin, and demands purity in His moral creatures."

This, folks, is the way our God is. God doesn't live by the standard, He is the standard. His moral norms for us are expressions of who He is. And when He follows them, He is simply being self-consistent.

Let me show you this in Scripture. Turn back with me to Psalms. Look at Psalm 5. David explains this to us in Psalm 5. As he talks about God's protection from wicked, he refers to God and God's relationship to evil.

Verse four, "For you [This is Psalm 5:4,] for you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness." [God doesn't delight in, He doesn't enjoy, wickedness or evil. Why? Because] "No evil dwells with You." [Because of who You are, God, because of Your character, because You are a God who loves what is good and hates what is evil, therefore You don't take pleasure in wickedness. And therefore, verse five,] "The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity."

Understand that what God loves and what God hates and the people God loves and the people God hates are ultimately driven by who He is. Because God is not evil, He doesn't delight in evil; instead, He delights in righteousness.

Look over at 11. Psalm 11, and look at verse 4. Again, David, sort of encapsulating the advice he's been given, that he's going to embrace, says, "The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men." [God is looking out with His divine omniscience on all men.] Verse five: "The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain snares; fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup." Why? Why does God respond that way to wickedness? "For [[because]] the LORD is righteous, [therefore] He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face."

Understand this, God hates evil because it is evil and He's not. He loves righteousness because it's righteousness, and He is. This is God's moral character.

Habakkuk 1:13, "Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor." [Why? Because You're not evil. Therefore, You don't delight in it, You don't like it.]

James 1:13, "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." [God doesn't deal in evil because He's not evil.]

First John 1:5, "This is the message we have heard from [[Jesus]] … and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him [[What]?] there is no darkness at all." [And because He's light, guess what? He wants people who walk in the light.]

Now, understand the ground of all morality is the character of God. The reason there're some things that are off limits is because they violate His character. They reason there're other things that are affirmed and we're encouraged to pursue is because they affirm who He is. Take lying for example. Why- does God forbid us from lying? Because he is—what? Truth! It's who He is. So, when we lie, it is a slap at His nature. It's grounded in His character.

There's a second foundational truth the Bible teaches. Not only is all morality grounded in the character of God, but number two, God has revealed the standard for human behavior in His objective, universal, eternal, moral law. So, God's moral character determines what's good and what's bad, and God has revealed that to us in the form of universally binding, moral law.

You say, how? How has God revealed it? He's revealed it according to the Scripture three ways. Man knows God's moral law, the reflection of His Own character, three ways.

Number one, He knows it in his heart. Look at Romans 1. I wish I had time to take you through all of Romans 1, but I don't, so just look at the end of the chapter. Paul's talking about mankind and their sinfulness, our sinfulness. And he lists a series of sins that men are guilty of, that God gives them over to commit because of their sinful hearts. And after he lists all those sins, he says this in verse 32 (Romans 1): "… although they [that is, mankind] [know] the ordinance of God [They know the Law of God], that those who practice such things are worthy of death, [[So they know what's right, they know what the penalty for it is].] they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."

You say whoa, wait a minute, stop the presses, rewind. How do men know what's right? Go over to 2 14. Here's one way they know, "When Gentiles [pagans] who do not have the Law." [That is,

they don't have the written Law of God. They don't have God's revelation, the Bible.] OK? They don't have it. But they "do instinctively [by nature] the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, … "they show."

Here's what that shows. When you look across the world and you see cultures that say murder is wrong, even cultures where Christianity is not in control you see cultures that say stealing is wrong, where does that come from? Well, here it is, verse 15. When they do that, they show the work of the Law, the substance of the Law, they show the works the Law demands "written in their hearts." [God has written in the heart of every human being, from Adam on, the substance of His moral requirements, the reflection of His character. And the conscience uses that.

Look at verse fifteen: their conscience, then, responds to that and either affirms them, or accuses them. It defends them or accuses them. So, it's written on the heart.

A second place the moral law of God is revealed is in the Bible in special revelation. Look back in Romans 2. In verse 12 he's dealing with the Jewish people, and he says, "All who have sinned without the Law [[those are Gentiles]] will also perish without the Law." In other words, they're going to be judged, according to verses 14 and 15, by the Law written on the hearts. But the Jews have the Bible, they have the written Law. Verse 12 ends, "All who have sinned under the Law" [They have God's written Law.] "will be judged by" [that] "Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified."

[Go down to verse 17 and following. God says, listen, the Jews have God's Law in written form. He quotes it.] Verse 21, "You … who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?" etc., etc. [And so, he affirms the reality that the Jews had God's written Law which revealed His moral code. So, you have it written on the heart of every man; you have it in the Bible.]

And by the way, that moral law is outlined by the Ten Commandments. Think of the Ten Commandments like hooks on which to hang areas of God's Law—categories, if you will. Jesus summarized that Law in two great commandments. You remember? You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There's the moral law of God. That's the requirement,: love God perfectly and love your neighbor as yourself. And that's outlined by the Ten Commandments.

So, the Law is known through the heart of every man, through the Bible, and through Christ. The perfect revelation of God's moral character was in the person of Jesus Christ. You want to know what God is like? Look at Christ. The writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 1 says this. He says, you know, God, after He spoke in the past, in many different ways, has in these last days, "spoken to us in His Son." And notice in verse 3 of Hebrews 1, he says this about Jesus, "[He is the … exact representation of" God's—what? "nature."

You want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. Jesus reflected the moral law of God by how He lived. So, the question is not WWJD, what would Jesus do, the question is what did Jesus do when He was here. That is a perfect revelation of God's moral character.

And that moral law that's been revealed through Christ and through the Bible and into the heart of every man, that moral law is objective; that is, it exists outside of our mind. It really does exist, whether you believe it or not. It's like the law of gravity. That doesn't exist in your mind, that's an objective reality that can be measured. You can believe it or not believe it, but it's true. The same thing is true with this moral law. Paul argues in Romans 2 that the fact that the Gentiles didn't have it didn't make it any less true.

It's universal. It's for every culture and every person. You say how do you know that? In Romans 3? Look at Romans 3:19. When Paul gets down to indicting all Jews and all Gentiles, this is what he says. Every Jew, every Gentile, he says in verse 19 of Romans 3: "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law" [that is, who have the written Law, the Bible, and who have it written in their hearts], "so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God…." This is for every single person. It is universal: every culture, every person.

It's also eternal. It doesn't change. It will never be right to have other gods before God. It will never be right to make a graven image. It will never be right to murder. It will never be right to lie, because it's a reflection of who He is. Look at the end of the Bible, Revelation 22. We've now fast-forwarded—after the thousand-year reign of Christ, we fast-forwarded to the new heavens and the new earth, and guess what? The moral law of God is still there, still making determinations. Look at Revelation 22:14, "Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside" [excluded from the new heavens and the new earth] "are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying."

The moral law is still there condemning those who have violated it and not repented, and it's still affirming those who have been redeemed from their sins by the work of Christ. So, the Bible's response to the lie that there are no moral absolutes? Two propositions: the ground of all morality is the character of God; and God has revealed the standard for human behavior in His objective, universal, eternal, moral law.

Now, very briefly, let me just consider three implications with you, implications of the reality of God's eternal, moral law.

Number one.: God's holiness, His moral purity, demands that He punish violations of His moral law. Who God is demands that He punish all violations of His moral law. Romans 1:18, "… the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and [all] unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." God is angry with the wicked every day, the Psalmist says. Why? Because it's personal.

Do you understand that? We think of our sin as, well, you know, it didn't hurt anybody. Listen, when you and I choose to sin, it's as if we took our hand and slapped the face of God, because that is a direct violation of who He is. And therefore, He has to punish it, because each sin is a violation of His person.

A.W. Pink writes, "The God which the vast majority of professing Christians love is looked upon very much like an indulgent old man, who Himself has no relish for folly, but leniently winks at the indiscretions of youth. [Pink goes on to say,] Get that out of your mind. [He says,] One sin-for one sin God banished our first parents from Eden. For one sin, all the posterity of Canaan fell under a curse which remains over them to this day. For one sin, Moses was excluded from the Promise Land. Ananias and Sapphira were cut off from the land of the living for one sin." [It is very, very serious, because it is an affront to the character of God. Every single sin.]

Number two, second implication, because of that, God always requires sacrifice to forgive our violations of His moral law. He always requires sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 "without the shedding of blood," there's—what? "no forgiveness." No forgiveness of our violations of His Law. Why? Because it's a violation of Him. He has to punish it, because He's just.

A.W. Pink again writes: "God has often forgiven sinners, but He never forgives sin. The sinner is only forgiven on the ground of another having borne his punishment." [Think about that. The only chance we have is that God will punish our sin, not on us but on Christ, because His holiness demands punishment. That's why Christ had to come, That's why He had to die.]

A.W. Tozer writes, "We must hide our unholiness in the wounds of Christ as Moses hid himself in the cleft of the rock. We must take refuge from God, the Father, in God, the Son. Above all, we must believe that God sees us as perfect only in the Son."

The third implication is that God demands that we as His children purse holiness. First Peter 1, look at it. We'll close here.

First Peter 1:14, "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves … in all your behavior; because it is written, 'YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY.'"

God demands that we as His children reflect His own moral character, that we obey His moral law. Why? Because it's a reflection of who He is.

Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for this truth.

Forgive us, O God, forgive us for imbibing the Kool-Aid of the age in which we live and thinking that we have a right to determine these things.

Father, help to see that what you have revealed in Your moral law is not passing with time, but rather it is a reflection of Your own eternal being. You love righteousness because You are righteous. You hate evil because You are righteous, and You're not evil.

Father, I pray that You would help us, first of all, to find our only peace with You in Christ.

Thank You that You punished Him as Your holiness demanded instead of punishing us. Father, thank You for Your love as well as Your holiness.

Father, I pray for the person here this morning who's never come to that point. May this be the day when they see You in Your holiness, and seeing You in Your holiness, may they see themselves as You see them, and may they cry out for Your mercy in Christ.

And Father, help us who are already Your Own to imitate You, Our Father. May we be holy in all our behavior because You are holy.

We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Lies Christians Believe