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MORALS AND GOD

 

 

 

Paul refers to imaginations that go against the knowledge of God (2 Cor 10:5: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ). There are plenty of such thoughts in society. These include, for example, the theory of evolution, the worship of false gods that takes place in many countries, and all teachings that lead people away from God. There are numerous similar examples.

   One important issue is morals and ethics or lack thereof. People in modern societies no longer consider morals to be dependent on God. They do not consider God to be the source of morals. They do not even believe that there is an almighty God who has created the universe and its people, and who determines what is right and what is wrong. People consider impossible the idea that morals come from God.

   They believe that values are created by people who have no connection to the supernatural. The foundation for their morals is completely different, because it relies on deistic or naturalistic ideologies; such people put a lot of weight on what Darwin said. Furthermore, they do not find their ethics in the Bible but elsewhere. They do not believe in objective truth, or in the existence of universally and eternally valid behaviour models. The Humanist Manifesto II illustrates this commonly shared naturalistic view:

 

“We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience.  Ethics are autonomous and situational, and need no theological or ideological sanction.”

 

Everything begins from the Creation. If we were to ask a normal person who has not heard any of these popular theories how likely it is that a fish turns into a person (which is what the theory of evolution postulates) then the person would most likely think that we were kidding. Or if we asked whether people, and everything that exists, could have come from a space the size of a pinhead (which is what the Big Bang theory states), then the person would most likely reply, “Are you nutty? How could anyone believe something so crazy?” He would not believe it, and would probably laugh at the idea.

   The fact is, however, that people actually do believe such theories. They take them as true, even though several errors have been found in the Big Bang theory, the theory on the origins of life, and the theory of evolution – errors that are explained in another article.

   What do these subjects have to do with morals and ethics, then? What does it matter if our universe started from the Big Bang, or if we were born in a primordial soup, or if our earliest ancestors were fish or ape-like beings?  What do these things have to do with what we are talking about here?

   Our thoughts about our origins are important. If we were developed from inanimate substances and our origins are impersonal, then the significance we give morality is difficult to explain. If there is no Creator, then there is no purpose to life; there is nobody to whom we will one day have to answer for what we have done. Nothing is absolute and there is no fixed point to which we can anchor our morals. We make our own value system; thus, the opinions of one are as valuable as any other’s. Morals vary from one person to the next. If we ask a paedophile, a playboy, a prostitute, Saddam Hussein, a murderer and a regular person about morals, we will get six completely different answers. They may all justify their actions and consider them to be reasonable, even though others disagree. Relative morality with no absolute authority produces a huge variety of opinions. Evolution is a religion that allows everyone to create their own rules.

 

This is connected to the fact that your thoughts about your origins influence your entire view of the world, your purpose of life, etc. If there is no God and we are only the result of random processes, it means that there is no absolute authority. And if there is nobody to set the rules, anybody can do anything and hope that they won’t get caught. Evolution is a religion that entitles people to come up with their own rules.

   (...) If it is difficult for you to believe that evolution is connected to the issues mentioned above, you will see the connection clearly after studying a couple of historical examples. In fact, I have yet to meet a single well-educated evolutionist who disagrees with me about the connection of these moral issues and evolution. They are not necessarily of the opinion that this is what should have happened but they do agree that people have applied evolution in this way. It is important for you not to misunderstand what I’m about to say. Of course, there were bad philosophies that go against God already before Darwinist evolution. People did abortions long before Darwin announced his popular view on evolution. However, people’s beliefs about their origins influence the way they view the world. When people reject God -- the Creator -- their attitude towards themselves, other people and our world changes. (1)

 

Where do morals come from? Morals can come from one of two sources: people or God. Modern people believe that morals only come from people. They do not believe that morals are principles of behaviour that God placed in them.

 

   What does the Bible teach? Paul clearly addresses this subject in his Letter to the Romans.  Paul writes that people have morals; they understand what is right and what is wrong. They have morals even though they have never received instruction about moral laws. This suggests that we are born with an understanding of what is right and wrong.

 

- (Rom 2:14,15) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law to themselves:

15 Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another

 

The next quote describes humans as moral beings, and morals are global. People all around the world have almost identical ideas of what is right and wrong. There are very few cultural differences. This can also be considered proof that people were originally created in the image of God, even though that image became distorted during­ the Fall. (Gen 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.)The Bible states that people are sinful in nature even though they understand what is right and what is wrong.

 

And what of the second modern objection – that the ethical standards of different cultures differ so widely that there is no common tradition at all? The answer is that this is a lie – a good, solid, resounding lie. If a man will go into a library and spend a few days with the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics he will soon discover the massive unanimity of the practical reason in man. From the Babylonian Hymn to Samos, from the Laws of Manu, the Book of the Dead, the Analects, the Stoics, the Platonists, from Australian aborigines and Redskins, he will collect the same triumphantly monotonous denunciations of oppression, murder, treachery and falsehood, the same injunctions of kindness to the aged, the young, and the weak, of almsgiving and impartiality and honesty. He may be a little surprised (I certainly was) to find that precepts of mercy are more frequent than precepts of justice; (...) It means that there is substantial similarity, even though there are considerable local differences of emphasis and, perhaps, no one moral code that includes everything. (2)

 

The next quote is about the same subject. It proves that morals are universal even though there may be minor discrepancies between different groups of people. Many people today do not consider homosexuality, for instance, to be wrong (probably because they think it is an inborn characteristic) even though it has been considered wrong for centuries in most cultures. These minor differences do not eliminate the fact that we are moral beings and make choices in our everyday lives. We feel that many things are right and we should do them, but we are still often reluctant to do what we feel is right. The inner sense that encourages us to make the right choice is most often called the conscience. In the verses above, we see that Paul also referred to the conscience when addressing people’s thoughts and the choices they make.

 

Yet even in our moral relativity, we cannot get rid of the sense that some things are “right” or “natural” and others not. For years homosexual behaviour was considered immoral by most of society. Now a large number of people are challenging this. But they do so not on the basis that no moral categories exist but that this one area – homosexuality – really ought to have been on the other side of the line dividing the moral from the immoral. Homosexuals do not usually condone incest! So the fact that people differ in their moral judgements does not change the fact that we continually make moral judgements and live by them or against them. Everyone lives in a moral universe, and virtually everyone – if they reflect on it – recognizes this and would have it no other way. (3)

 

What can we deduce about morals? We noted above that morals are universal, and that people are different from animals because we have intelligence, feelings, language and a religious sense. All of this suggests that we were originally created in God’s image and that He intended for us to be close to Him. In addition to eating, drinking, working and procreating we are supposed to be doing something else. We are eternal beings, just as we are told in the Bible:

 

- (Eccl 3:11) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Niv)

 

So what can we deduce based on the fact that morals are universal? Many people nowadays do not believe in God; they reject that our understanding of right and wrong comes from Him. Why wouldn’t that be true? If He created the first pair of people, and if people are clearly different from animals, then why couldn’t our sense of right and wrong also be a characteristic He built into us? This is highly likely if God is good and hates injustice, as the Bible states in many places. God’s anger toward things that are wrong and His holiness are very clearly and powerfully described in the verses below. These verses prove that He is a perfect God who is against evil:

 

- (Matt 5:48) Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

 

- (Lev 19:2) Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

 

- (1 John 1:5) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

 

- (Rom 1:18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness

 

The worst of all is that we humans know the difference between right and wrong (either naturally or through biblical instruction) yet we often fail to do the right thing. We could do good deeds, be altruistic, help others, and avoid evil -- but we often do just the opposite (James 4:17: Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.). The mere knowledge of right and wrong will never guarantee our correct behaviour. People’s selfishness prevents us from doing so. C. S. Lewis wrote about morals; people know what they should do, but fail to behave accordingly.

 

But the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’.

   (...) These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the natural moral law, and they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in. (4)         

 

People’s defects are described in many verses of the Bible. These verses show that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We cannot be as perfect and sinless as God expects us to be:

 

- (Rom 3:9) What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin

- (Rom 3:19,20) Now we know that what things soever the law said, it said to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

- (Rom 3:23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

- (Rom 5:12) Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned


- (Gal 3:22) But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

- (1 John 1:8,10) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

- (Eccl 7:20) For there is not a just man on earth, that does good, and sins not.

 

Our imperfect nature is clearly addressed by the two greatest commandments: to love God with all our heart, soul and mind; and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Those who fail to always follow these commandments commit the greatest sin:

 

 

- (Matt 22:36-39) Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37  Jesus 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 first and great commandment.

39  And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

 

God’s two properties. We noted above that God doesn’t look upon us with favour. We do not measure up to God’s standards; our own conscience condemns us. We are far from perfect.

   How does God respond to the fact that people fail to meet His moral standards? Many people often misunderstand this subject. Their notions about God are in some ways  reminiscent of deism. They believe that God is a distant and impersonal being who neither reacts to anything nor cares about anything. He feelse neither love nor hate, and is in no way interested about anything. He does not judge the world nor does He want people to come to Him. He created the universe but then stopped working in the world or caring about it.

   This idea is based on imagination and has nothing to do with the reality, however. After all, the Bible says that God is a living personality and that the key characteristic of God is goodness. He is a good God whose goodness is manifested in two ways: sanctity and love.

 

God's sanctity and hatred of sin. We noted above that God hates everything that is wrong and will condemn it. In fact, only a God who reacts negatively when seeing something bad can be good. Any god who fails to oppose bad and condemn it is not a good God.

   When people commit sins they feel God’s wrath. Historical examples include the generation wiped out by floods during the days of Noah, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah; the Canaanite people; and the early kingdoms of Israel and Judea. They were not destroyed accidentally. They were destroyed by God intentionally, because evil had reached huge proportions in their societies.

   What about demonstrations of God’s wrath found in the New Testament? The prime example of God’s wrath is found in the description of an eternal hell that God has prepared for all people who do not repent. If this were not true, why would Jesus have talked so much about it?

 

- (Matt 8:11,12) And I say to you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

12  But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    

- (Phil 3:18,19) For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.

 

- (2 Thess 1:9) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power

 

- (Rev 20:12-15) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15  And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

God’s love. The first piece of evidence Of God’s goodness is the fact that he hates anything that is wrong and evil. This proves that He sides with the good against the evil.

   Another piece of evidence proving God’s goodness is His love. He is not an indifferent God but a God who really loves people and wants the best for them. R.A. Torrey preached this a little over a hundred years ago. He said that God loves people, regardless of their sins. This applies to everyone.

 

Is there a thief here tonight? God loves you. Is there a fallen woman? God loves you. Is there an egoist here tonight? God loves you. Is there someone who uses foul language? God loves you. I want to show you something you cannot find in all of Birmingham. You will not find any woman or man in Birmingham who is not loved by God. (5)

 

How has God’s love manifested itself, then? Now we are reaching the very core of the Bible and the New Testament. It manifested itself in the way Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came under the law into this world and repaired our relationship with God – God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor 5:19), so that we could be forgiven our sins and get in contact with Him. Jesus came here and did what the law demanded because people were unable to do so. Now God and His law no longer judge people who turn to Jesus Christ and give their lives to Him.

 

- (Gal 4:4,5) But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

5  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

 

- (Matt 5:17) Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

 

- (Col 2:13-14) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross

 

- (Gal 3:13) Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree

 

- (Rom 6:14,15) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.

15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

 

- (Rom 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

The following verses also teach about God’s love and what Jesus did for us. In these verses, you should pay special attention in expressions like for us.  These verses prove that the foundation of salvation lies in something somebody else did for us, not in ourselves. It is all based on God’s love, the second piece of evidence supporting His goodness. God is a good God who wants people to be saved and wants them to get to Heaven:

 

- (1 John 4:9,10) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

- (John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

- (Rom 5:8) But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

- (Rom 5:6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

 

- (Rom 8:32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

 

- (Gal 2:20)  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

- (Gal 3:13) Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree

 

- (1 Thess 5:10) Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

 

- (1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

 

Your share

 

- (Luke 15:17-20) And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18  I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you,

19  And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants.

20  And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

 

- (1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

If God loved people and did what the law demands for us all, how can we share this love and eternal life?

   The answer is easy: we must turn to God and repent our sins like the prodigal son. God never forgives a person who does not repent their sins and want to renounce them. This is impossible. If He did so, He would accept something that is wrong. This goes against God’s goodness.

   But God will forgive anybody who repents, who gives his or her life to Him and places his or her trust in Jesus Christ, His Son. In the Bible, John the Baptist, Jesus Himself, and the disciples stated that we must repent (Matt 3:1,2 / Matt 4:17 / Acts 17:30) and believe in Jesus Christ. When doing this, we actually confess that we have not been connected to God and we now want to come to Him. Confessing sins may be part of it, as illustrated in the verses above. And when we believe in Jesus Christ, our relationship with God will change completely because Jesus has already done it all for us.

   So, when you give yourself to God, confess that you were not connected to him, tell Him all the sins that weigh you down, and believe in Jesus. God will forgive you for all your sins. This is not based on something you do or in your goodness. It is based on Jesus who already did it all for us! Read the verses above. Place your trust in Him. Believe in what He has done for you and turn to Him. Jesus is eternal life:

 

- (Acts 16:30,31) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.

 

- (John 6:67-69) Then said Jesus to the twelve, Will you also go away?

68  Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life.

69  And we believe and are sure that you are that Christ, the Son of the living God.

 

- (John 5:39,40) Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

40  And you will not come to me, that you might have life.

 

So, if you have turned to Jesus Christ and received Him into your life, you are a child of God and have eternal life. You have eternal life regardless of what you feel right now. Do not base your assurance of salvation on your ever-changing emotions, but rest in the word of the Bible and on Jesus Christ, just like the anchor of a ship is never thrown inside the ship but always outside.

                                             

- (John 1:12)  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

 

 - (1 John 5:11-13) And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12  He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.

13  These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.

 

THE PRAYER OF SALVATION: Lord, Jesus, I turn to You. I confess that I have sinned against You and have not lived according to Your will. However, I want to turn away from my sins and follow You with all my heart. I also believe that my sins have been forgiven through Your atonement and I have received eternal life through You. I thank You for the salvation that You have given me. Amen.

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

1. Ken Ham: Valhe, evoluutio, (The Lie: Evolution), p. 55,112,113

2. C.S. Lewis: Entisen ateistin kristillisiä esseitä (Christian Reflections), p. 100, 101

3. James W. Sire: Missä maailmassa? Maailmankatsomusten perusteet puntarissa (The Universe Next Door. A Basic Worldview Catalog), p. 36

4. C.S. Lewis: Tätä on kristinusko (Mere Christianity), p. 16,18

5. R.A. Torrey: Joh 3:16

 

 

 

 

 

Jari Iivanainen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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