Moral Crisis, Moral Possibilities

in the series "How to Live the Bible"

It is hard not to be utterly dismayed by the lack of basic morality in society today. It is a crisis within the lives of individuals, in groups and organizations, and in institutions. And at the highest levels of leadership it is challenging to find men and women of unassailable moral character—not sinlessness, but basic integrity.

Even making this observation runs the risk of drawing ridicule from those who think morality is a quaint notion of a bygone era, or worse, a rigid and repressive self-righteousness, almost always hypocritical.

Yet morality is one of the most essential and highest human characteristics. The belief that there is a difference between right and wrong, between ought and ought-not, or between good, better, and best, is the only thing stopping us from destroying each other. If there is no distinction between what is moral and what is immoral then there is no fundamental difference between nurturing your child and abusing your child. No reason not to rob your sibling. Nothing holding us back from spitting out one lie after another to manipulate, deceive, or dominate.

C. S. Lewis said the sense of morality in the human race—uneven though it is—may be the strongest “proof” for the existence of God. There just is no reason men and women would have any sense of ought and ought-not unless there was a Creator whose essential character is moral.

We are naturally disappointed when long-standing Christians or even leaders in the church are exposed in scandals of gross immorality. We ought to be disappointed when leaders relinquish their moral standards in order to support someone on their side who is guilty of scandal. We ought to ask: How can this be? How can things get so twisted? What hope is there for any of us to have integrity?

We might be tempted to think that if we knew the texts of the Bible better such things would not happen. But biblical illiteracy is not the core problem here. Most people with any Christian background know the Ten Commandments prohibit adultery, thievery, and murder—yet that knowledge does not prevent moral failure.

Living the Bible means being able to hold to standards of basic morality and ethics, but this shaping of character happens over a lifetime and through many processes. Paul describes one person of notable character, the young Timothy, when he wrote to him:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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 3:14-17).

The core idea is this: the “sacred writings” are able to make us wise for the rescue and preservation of our lives. “Faith in Christ Jesus” is the power. The process takes a lifetime (for Timothy, “from childhood,” but it can begin at any time). The truth of Scripture is taught by people who are living it themselves (for Timothy, it was his grandmother and mother, see 2 Tim. 1:5). Living the Bible means to “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed,” in other words, a lifetime commitment based on an informed and firm faith.

Paul is specific in how the Scriptures shape a life. The word of God, “breathed out” by God himself (not merely a human book) is profitable in four ways. For “teaching”—so Scripture shows us what it true. For “reproof”—so it convicts us when we fall short, which is merciful, not cruel. For “correction”—meaning that Scripture shows us how to recover. And for “training in righteousness”—which means gaining the skills and patterns that keep us in a right relationship with God.

And that leads to moral character. When we come under the “teaching,” “reproof,” “correction,” and “training” of Scripture as a lifestyle, we will be shaped by it. Along the way we experience suffering in its many forms, and that too shapes character, driving us back to the breath of God.

Morality is not really the highest goal in life. Being in a right relationship with God is. Keeping our focus there makes true morality possible and keeps us humble, which is our only protection against flaunting morality which is like wearing a thin mask that will inevitably fall off one day.

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10 thoughts on “Moral Crisis, Moral Possibilities

  1. “Being in a right relationship with God is”

    I have been fixated upon this verse…

    “How should we then live”

    Does it not follow that if we are right with God that we should live right?

    i always thought that we should be lead by the spirit

    much lov

    Nine

  2. Thanks again Mel, for a solid word on living out our Christian life in a fallen world . Before l started to read this email eph 3-17 came to my heart i see you as this man rooted and grounded in love. Great Christmas message. God Bless you and your Family.

  3. Very wise words as usual ! I think as Christians we need to follow the bible in everything and not pick and choose what suits us. We also need to seek the truth, the real truth.

    Having been on this planet for a long time, one of the biggest differences I see nowadays is the effect of the mainstream media and social media on people. The MSM is full of lies and distortions and people think they are being moral when they go along with it, when in fact the truth is entirely different. If we are not careful and don’t carefully seek the truth, and listen to those who reveal the truth, we can end up mistakenly praying for the evil people to win over the good. what could be worse than that ?

  4. “Morality is not really the highest goal in life. Being in a right relationship with God is.” Sometimes people are afraid to come to church because the emphasis appears to be all about rules and they do not think they’ll receive compassion. The media is easier to believe because they make wrong seem right. Spiritual warfare definitely goes on. I pray for all my brothers & sisters in Christ, so hard to live in this world.

      • I have been absolutely fixated upon this verse

        from a fine biblical scholar

        How should we then live

        figure that out and theirs your answer

        church is local you see

        in him united

        the gospel I see

        Nine

  5. One more comment

    my dear friend just got killed a couple of months ago upon an american road

    he dared to ride his bicycle

    twas a hit and run

    pardon me for being angry on this American road on a bicycle

    the enemy says we should kill one another

    he says we should love one another

    its simple you see in your car

    if you see one of us in spandex

    watch out a bit for me

    the America I know….

    tough to post

    Nine

  6. Thank you Pastor Mel for your teachings. Thank you for your time daily. that you spend digging and searching. Thank you for leading us to the field where the pearl of great price is buried. Please have a wonderful day.

  7. Dr. Lawrenz,

    Could you possibly write about the nature of the law?

    What is law and who created it and is just a word on an electronic file holy?

    I believe personally …that he sent his spirit personally…as in person to person through him.

    I know this is radical theology and that I know that I would get kicked out of elmbrook church for saying it…

    such a thing as a spirit led life

    bible not needed

    in him all is included

    if we have a bible

    his spirit will inspire those words

    that is how I believe

    Nine