Tuesday, 15 October 2013

How Does One Know What's "Moral?"

Humans are born with an internal compass that tells them what is right or wrong.  But there's a few problems with relying on this compass alone to tell what is right/wrong.  (1) One has to be able to read said compass, and that's often hard to do with so many mixed signals coming.  "Follow your heart" is an overused cliche that doesn't really work.  Sometimes it's hard to tell what the heart is saying, especially when you have your mind saying something different.  (2) People can have broken moral compasses:  psychopaths for example.  (3) One person's moral compass may disagree with another person's moral compass.  And since something cannot be both right/wrong at the same time, one person's internal compass is incorrect.  If one person's internal moral compass is incorrect, so is it possible for a large portion of the population's moral compasses to be incorrect.  (4)  Moral compasses are often altered by a person's environment or upbringing.

So the answer to knowing what is moral has to come from something outside of a person's internal feelings.

This is a big question and I've read a few arguments and counter-arguments.  Feel free to share your own idea of what makes something moral.  However, in the interests of saving your (and my) time....

At the end of the day, God is the judge of us all, and so we should look to him to see what is moral.  As soon as we do so, we can see very clearly that God looks to more than a person's motives when he is judging if someone is moral or not.

 Proverbs 21:2 - A person may think their own ways are right,
    but the Lord
weighs the heart.

Behaving sinfully is the opposite of behaving morally, and God gave us the 10 Commandments - The Law - to show us what is sinful.  So to INITIALLY answer the question, "how does one know what is moral?" something is wrong if it breaks The Law, and right if it doesn't.

However, I find that I cannot simply end here.  Because it's not enough to know what's right or wrong, but we also have to know how it affects us.  How good is "good enough?"  After all, you can be the perfect person up to the point where you kill someone, and now you are a murderer.  Do all your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds?  This is how some people figure they are going to go to heaven.  However, the bible doesn't give us a measure of how much good deeds and bad deeds are "worth."  It does however say this...

Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Basically, this is to say, that no one is worthy enough to go to Heaven, simply because they have sinned.  According to this verse, we cannot say that someone is "moral" because they have sinned in their life.

The good news is presented in the context of the verse I just presented

Romans 3:  21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

According to this verse, we can be righteous, justified, free of the blame of our sin, by having faith in Jesus Christ.  It's not enough to simply have faith in ourselves or faith in God - we need to have faith that Jesus death was sufficient payment to satisfy God's justice.  How much is our sin worth?  Whatever the answer, it has been paid for on the cross.

Essentially, the only way to be fully "moral" is to become a Christian, for it is only by becoming a Christian that all your sins will be forgiven.  As presented in this verse, the way to become a Christian is to have faith in Jesus, but what does this really mean?

Here's what it means:

1.  You acknowledge that you are not a moral person.  Your sins are too big for your to pay for without going to Hell, and that you need help.

2.  You acknowledge that Jesus died in your place, whatever your sins were worth, they are paid for by Jesus' death.  Jesus' death was sufficient because he is the perfect Son of God.

3.  Acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God, you also have to acknowledge that he has to be, as he claimed to be, God.  You don't have to understand the trinity (Father/Son/Holy Spirit, three persons in one) of God to become a Christian (I don't believe anyone can fully understand it with these finite minds of ours), you simply have to acknowledge Jesus is God.  And you can't acknowledge Jesus as God without also putting him in the place of God in your life.  This is why it is said to become a Christian you have to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour - you both have to believe he rescued you, and also follow him with your life because he is the only one worthy to follow.

Following Jesus means turning away from your sinful past.  This is called repentance - not only being sorry for your sins but turning away from it.

Christians aren't perfect, we as Christians still can and absolutely do sin.  The difference is now we not only do not want to sin (at least our new, regenerated heart doesn't want to sin, our sinful flesh has something different to say), but when we do sin, our sin has been ultimately paid for.

So now we can finally approach the final answer to the one posed in the title of this article.  Someone is moral if someone is good/right.  However, since everyone has done something wrong according to God, it's not possible to be moral because the bad thing we did makes us immoral (just as one drop of poison in a pure solution contaminates the whole solution).  However, we have a chance to be truly and completely moral when we let Jesus pay for the bad things we do, taking them off our record so that we may be righteous.

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