sermon: Whose Morality Are We Following?
God's Morality and Ethics
Martin G. Collins
Given 21-Apr-01; 78 minutes
The Israelitish nations today have moved into a new era, where there is no such thing as real truth or good and evil. Universal absolute Christian morality is no longer held as the standard of proper conduct. Traditionally, our government's law enforcement extended to the protection of public health, safety, and it included morals. Typical forms of moral legislation prohibited or restricted prostitution, pornography, and other forms of sexual sins as well as gambling and the recreational use of drugs. But we are watching a steady erosion of these laws, very quickly.
In recent times, there has been steady erosion of this kind of legislation constantly. It seems like it is in the news every day, and it has come under severe attach by liberal leaders. They contend that morality cannot be legislated. And their argument goes something like this: "How can the government enact and enforce moral laws in a free society? No one can force people to be good. You can't impose your morality on someone else."
In a liberal society, freedom is supreme. No ego may be offended, or restricted—and certainly not restricted by moral judgment. Restriction by moral judgment is negatively labeled "judgmentalism" in this world. Sometimes this carries over into the church as well. When somebody tries to stand up for God's morality, sometimes the person is labeled as "judgmental;" but that is just a smoke screen sometimes. It is a catch phrase that Satan has put out there for us to be misguided and misdirected.
Who has a right to impose morality on others? You have your opinions, of course; and I probably agree with them, if you are in the church. This society asks Christians, "Who are you to tell me what to do?" They tell us that true liberty is to create ones own values and morality. In their perverted thinking, they even insist that what one may think is moral is an immoral act for another. So we can see that the reasoning goes on and on and on, in a twisted way. One twisted thought builds on another twisted thought.
But does this twisted morality make any sense at all? How can they determine what is legal when law is simply seen as one area that evolves without a reference to God. God, of course, is the supreme Lawgiver. So, if you throw Him out the window (figuratively speaking), then what do you have to base any morality on?
The Christian heritage and law system of the Israelites nations today has all but been forgotten, and it certainly has been ignored. When God's law is removed from the civil law, the law of the land ultimately loses its authority and its vitality and its good. Look at Canada as an example of steady erosion of moral law based on private morality and situation ethics. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada declared that Canada is a secular nation. Secular is the word that seems to be unclear to many people today. But by "secular" he means relating to worldly things, as distinguished from things relating to church and religion. Basically, what he has declared is that Canada is worldly. That is what the word "secular" means—worldly. By declaring that, he has thrown God out the window.
Intellectuals in Canada tend to follow the teaching of the nineteenth century British philosopher, John Steward Mill. Since the publication of his essay, "On Liberty," many have come to believe in liberty strictly in individual terms—where the individual is supreme. Through the influence of John Mill, law is viewed as essentially public, whereas morality has large private areas into which the law can intrude only by violating individual "rights" and "freedoms." So you can see how the separation has come to be. You have public law, and you have private morality. The two are not intermixed. And so they have removed any connection between law and morality.
Let me give you an example. Sexuality has been designated by the intellectuals as a private affair. They have determined that the only secular legal concerns in this area should be those of harm and consent. That is, does it harm anyone? And, is it between two consenting people? The age of the participants is rapidly becoming a non-issue. Our society is one of "live and let live"; and they are even trying to remove any morality that has to do with the treatment of children and sexuality. This is in stark contrast to what God firmly instructed the descendants of Israel.
Leviticus 20:1-2a Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Again, you shall say to the children of Israel: 'Whoever of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who gives any of his descendants to Molech. . .
Of course, we know that today to be not only child sacrifice but also it includes abortion.
Leviticus 20:2b-3 . . . he shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from his people, because he has given his some of his descendants to Molech, to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name."
I want you to take special notice of verse 4 here, if you would.
Leviticus 20:4-15 And if the people of the land should in any way hide their eyes from the man [That is, disregard or ignore the sin.], when he gives some of his descendants to Molech, and they do not kill him: then I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech. [Of course, it is spiritual idolatry.] And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the LORD who sanctifies you. For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him. The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. The man who lies with his father's wife [That is incest.] has uncovered his father's nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. If a man lies with his daughter-in-law [There again, another form of incest.], both of them shall surely be put to death. They have committed perversion. Their blood shall be upon them. If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman [There you have homosexuality.], both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire [Of course, that is the death sentence.], both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you. If a man mates with an animal [There you have bestiality.], he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal.'
In that case, both the human being and the animal are to be destroyed. That is what a filthy perversion that is, just like homosexuality.
Leviticus 20:16 'If a woman approaches any animal and mates with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood is upon them.'
Of course, we apply that in the church today as being put out of the church. By doing that, in a spiritual sense, the person is being put to death—by being put out of the church for these crimes.
Today's society says that religion and morality are strictly private matters. Obviously, God feels otherwise. Homosexuality is an imposed morality, imposed by the world. Listen to the prophetic words by this homosexual, quoted by Gene Antonio in his article "AIDS—a Weapon in the Hands of Militant Homosexuals."
We shall sodomize your sons. We shall seduce them in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms, in your sports arenas, in your seminaries, in your movie theatre bathrooms, in your army bunkhouses, in your truck stops, in your all male clubs, in your Houses of Congress—your sons shall do our bidding. They will be recast in our image. They will come to crave and adore us.
This gives me cold chills, because it sounds like a demon speaking. Does he intend to impose his morality on others? Absolutely! As strongly and as actively as he can. Leaders of the gay 'rights' movement see traditional Christian teachings as the greatest single force causing disapproval and rejection of homosexual behavior. Consequentially, there is an all-out effort to overcome, subvert, and discredit Christian religious organizations that hold fast to biblical teachings.
They seek to do this by revising (that is, modernizing) the Scriptures and subverting mainline denominations, and then using those mainline denominations as catapults for attacks against the conservative Bible teachings churches. According to God's Word, as we saw in Leviticus 20, homosexuality and lesbianism are abominations in the sight of God, punishable by capital punishment—that is, death. Sodomy is a sin of the gravest and most serious consequences. God warns many times against the sin of sodomy. So no one can truthfully say that homosexuality is not condemned in the Scripture. Many times it is mentioned.
Leviticus 18:22-24 "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. it is abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion. do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you."
In setting forth God's laws of human relations, Moses made it clear in Deuteronomy 23:17 that there were to be no sodomites whatsoever in Israel—and none tolerated. Sodomy brings catastrophic consequences upon the city or nation that approves of it, or condones it, or fails to stand against it. This is one of the reasons why this nation is going to receive such a harsh punishment when God decides to punish it—even more so, because we are already beginning to see the effects of the sins of this nation.
Leviticus 18:25 "For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment upon it, and the land itself vomits out its inhabitants."
Did God really mean what He said, when He told the Israelitish nations this? Our Israelitish nations—our many cities, states, and provinces—would do well to consider what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah because of the sin of sodomy, and other sins and perversions. Because sodomy was so prevalent, Genesis 19 mentions that it involved all the people—from every quarter. "All the people from every quarter" does not mean that every last person was involved personally in homosexuality. But all were guilty of the sin of homosexuality by extension—if they condoned it and if they did not rid it from their communities. And then God destroyed both those cities, and all the inhabitants of those cities, that which grew upon the ground; and lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
Now, Jude wrote in verse 7 that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns (that likewise gave themselves over to the sensual perversions) was not only a punishment, but also set forth an example for all of us down through history—to know what will definitely happen if we allow such perversions in our nations. Genesis 13:13 tells of the people of Canaan being completely submerged in depravity. Homosexuality was so prevalent that it was made into a religious rite there. And, for such abominations, God sentenced the Canaanites to death.
Leviticus 18:26-29 "You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation, or any stranger who dwells among you (for all these abominations the men of the land done, who were before you, and the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people."
God warned the Israelite that, when He had delivered the wicked Canaanites before them, they were to make no covenant with them. Israel's later failure to execute the judgment that God demanded ultimately caused their own downfall, and they received judgment for the same thing. Sodomy promotes idolatry, invites false gods, nurtures apostasy, and spawns addition perversions—first those who indulge in its lusts and evils, and ultimately the nation that permits it to continue unchallenged. So not only are the individuals who partake in these perversions going to, and are, receiving penalties for it—but the nation itself is held responsible.
Historically, rampant homosexuality has been one of the social malignancies that proceeded the fall of nations and empires. Two examples of that are Greece and Rome. Both had serious problems in that area. So final and awful are the consequences of sodomy that the LORD God commands cleansing. And He commands and rewards those who work to rid the land of the evil.
I Kings 15:11-12 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did his father David. And he banished the perverted persons from the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.
Even during the time of David, and shortly after David, there was a problem with sodomy that crept into the nation. So it is always there, and it is always trying to creep in—whether we see it in the news, or whether it is overtly or not. It is always promoting itself, because Satan is the author of it; and he constantly promotes anything that can destroy people's mentality and people's future salvation.
The apostle Paul minced no words about sodomites. He wrote to Christians in Rome that, if sodomites refused to repent and change their wicked ways, God abandons them to their own uncleanness—to the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.
Romans 1:25-27 Who exchanged the truth of God for a lie [or, that is, into a false religion], and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature [or, you might say, they exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one]. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman [or, turning from the natural relations with a woman], burned in their lust for one toward another, men with men committing what is shameful [or committing shameful and indecent acts], and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
So they were suffering—in their own bodies and minds—the inevitable consequences and penalties of their wrong doings. There are penalties. There are consequences. Some are immediate, and some are long term. We see that with AIDS, as one example in our society today.
Romans 1:28, 32 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting. [Or, those things that are not proper or decent, but are loathsome.]. . . . who, knowing the righteous judgment of God [So, they are not ignorant. They know it is wrong.], that they who commit such things are deserving of death, not only do the same [or, persist in doing such things.] but also approve of those who practice them.
As we saw in that quote from the radical militant homosexual, they have a pleasure in not only doing it themselves but also in trying to get as many people to partake in the act with them. But in I Corinthians 6, Paul included homosexuals among those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
I Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves; nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God.
In the first letter to Timothy, Paul writes that the law is made for the lawless—the disobedient and the ungodly sinners. That includes homosexuals.
I Timothy 1:9-10 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.
Now, a homosexual can be forgiven of his sin (just like a murderer can) if there is genuine repentance involved. But genuine repentance is mandatory. There is no question about it. And it must be accompanied by true faith. Then the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ can wipe away that sin. Those who will turn to Jesus Christ in faith and repentance, accepting Him as their Savior, will find the power to overcome and to resist such perversion. So there is hope for homosexuals.
But I was surprised recently at hearing of some people not knowing why homosexuality is wrong, and how to answer people in the world who mention and state that. So I felt that, since it has become a very strong imposed morality that the world and this society has placed upon us, it would be good just to lay down some of these scriptures for you at this time—to show you that it is wrong. There is no doubt, and there is plenty of proof; and they know that they are wrong. So do not take anything from these people that try to tell you otherwise—because they are misled, deceived, and blind.
Let us continue with this idea of "private morality." The idea of private morality makes no sense at all. If the individual's choices are supreme and free from the supervision of law in private life, where are the limits? The question has been raised whether or not those who make a clear distinction between public and private morality believe that murder between consenting adults in private is permitted. The reasoning that society uses should be applied exactly the same for all sins, but they do not do that. They pick and choose, because their imposed morality on this world is one that satisfies them—the person, the individual. Of course, this strict distinction between public and private morals does not make much sense at all.
When we believe that God still upholds and rules heaven and earth by His eternal counsel and providence, then life cannot be divided into private and public spheres of activity. In private as well as in public life, we are responsible as individuals to God and to our fellow man. We cannot make that distinction, like our previous President did about his sexual sins. Yes, it does effect others. Private and personal sins effect entire nations and, by extension, the entire world.
Who decides what is moral? Dr. Robert Butcher, professor of philosophy at the University of Western Ontario in Canada says, "Moral questions cannot be answered by any reference to any particular religion or community of faith." Wrong! He claims that, "It is the task of all of us to search for the best moral decisions and then to implement them impartially and with fairness."
Now, what human being on earth could possibly do that? Well, none (not without God's Holy Spirit). This sounds good to the non-Christian, but it is impossible for a human being to come up with moral decisions and implement them impartially without first having that standard of righteousness given to us by the Almighty God.
There is no escape from the imposition of morality. The notion that morality cannot be legislated overlooks the fact that almost all legislation of civil law concerns moral action. The question, therefore, is not "Can we legislate morality?" Or, "Can this government legislate morality?" Or, "Can we force the government to legislate morality?" The question is "Whose morality is being promoted and legislated?"
With regard to abortion, pro-lifers are accused of trying to impose their morality on others. Of course they are! A difference of opinion is an imposition of somebody else's morality. But at least their morality is based on biblical standards. But listen to the general argument of abortion rights advocates. "It is simply wrong for anyone to force his or her own view of what is morally right on someone else." To the average person, that seems like something good. Of course, that is in man's human reasoning. Consequently, they argue that pro-lifers (by attempting to forbid women from having abortion) are trying to force their morality on others. What is wrong with this argument? Abortion is not a mere legal issue. It is always a moral issue. The wrongness of abortion follows from the truth that life is a loan from God and belongs to Him.
Luke 12:20 But God said to him, "Fool! This night your soul shall be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?"
Who has the authority to require that man's soul? Only one Person—and that is God. When does life begin? That is a question that this world's morality cannot answer (at least, not properly). Jeremiah 1:5 speaks of the sanctification of Jeremiah before he was born. Luke 1:41 describes how the unborn baby in Elizabeth's womb (the one who later became John the Baptist) leaped for joy at Mary's greeting. These were before birth.
The life of each human being—from conception to natural death—is unique. Unborn children are fashioned in the image of God. And, in today's society, why is a woman considered "a person" and not an unborn child? And, if an unborn child is not a person, why should the Supreme Court of this land not decide that a one-week-old infant or a seventy-year-old is not "a person"? Take the extremes.
I think that this is a frightening but realistic reality that is coming upon us—in the form of euthanasia. Within the last few weeks, the Dutch just became the first Western country to legalize assisted suicide. And that is a step right before euthanasia. And that will flow through the European nations and, of course, the United States and the descendants of Israel very rapidly. It is just a matter of a very short time now before that will be acceptable in society.
Legalizing abortion reveals the moral decadence and spiritual bankruptcy of a nation. This point was made by the Canadian philosopher, George Grant, in his response to the striking down of the anti-abortion law in Canada. In his essay, "The Triumph of the Will," Grant compared the philosophical basis for the pro-abortion movement to the same element that drove the Nazis in World War II (and before World War II). He wrote:
National socialist ideology [That is Nazism.] was impregnated at its heart in Darwinian biology. In terms of such an account of life, why should we care about the life of a fetus when it conflicts with the will of a fully developed woman? But then, of course, we are led inexorably to the next stage. Why should we care about the lives of human beings outside of the womb, if they are only an accidental conglomeration of cells and if they stand in our way? Those who see life simply as a product of necessity and chance are inevitably more open to feticide, because they do not see the destiny to which human beings are called. This is the prodigious predicament that the intellectual triumph of modern science has cast upon human beings.
Even some of these hypocritical abortion rights advocates believe that it is not always wrong to impose one's morality on others. For instance, they support laws against drunken driving, murder, using illegal drugs, robbery, and child molestation. These laws are all intended to impose a particular morality perspective on the free moral agency of others. Such laws are instituted because the acts they are intended to prevent often obstruct the free will agency of others. For example, a person killed by a drunken driver is prevented from exercising his free agency. These laws seek to maintain a just and orderly society by limiting some free moral agency. This is done so that, in the long run, free moral agency is increased for a greater number of people.
Let us take a slight turn here and look at how responsibility equals accountability, because it is a very important aspect of what the society is imposing upon us as a morality. Blaming a person's actions on poverty, or abusive parents, or genetics, or too much junk food conveys an entirely different inherent message than to say, "He chose to do it." Personal responsibility retains the individual's active role as a responsible moral agent.
Blaming a person's environment, rather than the person as an individual, relegates him to a secondary position in which he becomes almost a victim himself—a helpless, pitiful pawn to that engendering entity (poverty, or whatever scapegoat is currently in style). This belief is an imposing of worldly morality on society. If you have noticed in the news this week, that young kid killed a child by using some wrestling hold that he had seen on TV. Now he is being painted by the media as being the victim, using this exact same reasoning.
Ezekiel 18 shows that responsibility equals accountability. Israel made a grave mistake in their reasoning during Ezekiel's time. They reasoned that the present generation was being judged harshly because of the past wickedness of their forefathers. They believed that it did not make any difference what they did, and they blamed their parents—which is exactly what is happening in this society today. Ezekiel was pronouncing judgment; and the people reasoned that they were unfortunate recipients of the ancient principle in Exodus 20, where Moses recorded the LORD God's words and said:
Exodus 20:5 "For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me."
So they used this statement as an "out" for responsibility of their own actions. The Israelites of Ezekiel's time misunderstood the message of Exodus 20:5. This principle teaches that the children would be effected by their father's sins. They would be effected by it. They would receive problems in society, or they would receive problems in their health, as a result of their ancestors' sins; but that did not excuse them from doing sins.
Unfortunately, the children frequently found themselves practicing the same sinful acts as their parents. As a result, they received the same just punishment for their actions. Each child was, and is, still responsible for his or her own actions. This misunderstanding of the Israelites, which was leading to irresponsibility and fatalism, was expressed in the proverb in Judah that is quoted in Ezekiel 18:2. Turn with me to Ezekiel 18; and we will read down through this, and pick up this very important principle—that responsibility equals accountability.
Ezekiel 18:1-2 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, "What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, [And this is what I want you to zero in on.] The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?"
This is the proverb that they used to excuse their own actions. The people believed that righteousness and wickedness were hereditary. Therefore, there was no reason to change one's ways. This had erroneously been applied to righteousness and unrighteousness at the same time. But God responds to this misconception of the hereditary principle:
Ezekiel 18:3 "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel."
They were free to make the decision to walk in His ways, or not. They were not bound by heredity. Verse 4 gives the basic principle of judgment for irresponsibility.
Ezekiel 18:4 "Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die."
There are three illustrations of this principle that are found here in Ezekiel 18. They are basically found between verses 15 and 18. The first illustration is in verses 5-9, and it describes a righteous father. The second illustration is found in verses 10-13 and also in verse 18, and it describes an unrighteous son. And then the third illustration is in verses 14-17, and that describes the righteous grandson (or, the righteous son of the unrighteous man).
Now the first illustration, which describes the righteous father, begins in verse 5. So let us begin reading there.
Ezekiel 18:5 "But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right; if he has not eaten on the mountains, nor has lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor has defiled his neighbor's wife, nor approached a woman during her impurity, if he has not oppressed anyone, but has restored to the debtor his pledge, has robbed no one by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and has covered the naked with clothing; if he he has not exacted usury nor has taken any increase, but has withdrawn his hand from iniquity and has executed true judgment between man and man; if he has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully—he is just; he shall surely live!" says the Lord GOD.
In this first illustration, in verses 5-9, God differentiates righteousness from unrighteousness by stating five legal areas of His law. The first one is that the righteous man refrains from involvement in pagan sacrificial meals at the pagan high mountain shrines (You can relate this today with having a Christmas meal with somebody who is celebrating Christmas.), and from prevalent idolatry that was found in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
The second area of His law expressed here is that the righteous man refused to defile his neighbor's wife (that is, through adultery) or to have relations with a woman during her menstrual period (which represents sexual perversions). The third was that a righteous man did not oppress people thorough maltreatment and extortion, but rather restored the pledge of a poor person's debt. The fourth area being spoken of here is that the righteous man did not steal, but feed and clothed the destitute. And the fifth being mentioned here is that the righteous man practiced only justice among his fellow Israelites, and refused to take interest from them. This list of examples of laws shows that a man's attitudes and acts towards others provide a true indication of his faith and attitude toward God.
The second illustration describes the unrighteous son:
Ezekiel 18:10-13 If he [the righteous father in the previous verses] begets a son who is a robber, a shedder of blood, and does any one of these things, and does none of those duties, but has eaten on the mountains or defiled his neighbor's wife, if he has oppressed the poor and needy, robbed by violence, not restored the pledge, lifted his eyes to the idols, or committed abomination, if he has exacted usury or taken increase—shall he then live? He shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.
In this second illustration, in verses 10-13, the unrighteous son of the righteous father demonstrates his unrighteousness and lack of faith by a lifestyle opposite of his father's. So he could not live off the merits of his righteous father. He was held accountable, personally, for his own actions. Whatever his father did in righteousness—the son did not do. And whatever his father refrained from, in righteousness—that the unrighteous son did. And verse 18 summarizes his wicked deeds as extortion, robbed his brother, and did what was wrong among his people.
The third illustration describes a righteous grandson:
Ezekiel 18:14-17 If, however, he [the unrighteous son of the righteous father in the previous verses] begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does not do likewise; who has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor's wife; nor has oppressed anyone, nor withheld the pledge, nor robbed by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing; who has withdrawn his hand from the poor and not received usury or increase, but has executed My judgments and walked in My statues—he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; he shall surely live!
We see a direct disobedience and direct disregard of God's Word having to do with those who sin. And we are seeing it right "up front" in the news media today. This third illustration, in verses 14-17, shows that an unrighteous man did not have to have an unrighteous son. If the grandson did all the righteous acts of God's law, like his righteous grandfather, and refused to follow his wicked father's unrighteous acts—then he would not die because of his father's wickedness, but would live.
Having stated the basic principle of individual responsibility (in verses 1-4) and then illustrated it (in verses 5-18), Ezekiel then elaborated aspects of this principle (in verses 19-32). The basic principle regarding judgment of responsibility is stated in verse 20.
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
Responsibility equals accountability for our own actions.
Romans 14:12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
Revelation 2:23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He that searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
We do suffer from the effects of the sins of our ancestors. Look at the poor health and degenerative disease all around us. Mad cow disease, and other things like lymphoma, and on and on and on are the receipt of the ancestors' and our society's sinning. The effects of the morality that this world imposes upon us, we are seeing full force now—in the penalties and the curses that come from that.
But the sins of our fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers do not predestine or condemn us to repeating our sins. Each individual is responsible for his own actions, and receives the ultimate penalty for sin. Each individual is responsible, and each individual who sins will receive death (but not the righteous person). Today, evil prevails—rather than righteous morality. And a major part of the problem is described by the prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings."
In Psalm 51, David confessed that he was conceived in iniquity and as a little baby (one who might be called "innocent") he was born a sinner. We may be reluctant to believe this. It may be attractive for us to think similar to the theme of Boys' Town, where they once said—"There's no such thing as a bad boy." But that is another misstatement. "They're simply misunderstood. They're misguided. And there's no such thing as a bad boy." Oh yes, there is. There is such a thing. And it is constant in this society. We see such a thing in the shootings in the schools throughout this nation.
Psalm 51:1-6 Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You might be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Psalm 51:10-14 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
You notice here that David wanted to impose God's morality on the lawbreakers and the sinners; but under God's direction, and not from his own human reasoning. No doubt many of you have read how, in his kingdom, David put away many perversions and ruled in righteousness. He imposed his morality upon his kingdom. Of course, it was not David's morality—it was God's.
The spiritual world of darkness—Satan's kingdom—is also part of the problem (not just the human heart). Jesus says that Satan is a murderer and has been from the beginning. In his heart, Satan was a murderer before the creation of man, when he conceived the destruction of man during God's design of His plan of salvation for mankind. Satan's immoral attitude was his gift to man, causing the first sin.
Of course, man had his share in that responsibility—a very large share. As we just recently read, men are held accountable for their own actions—regardless of who has influenced them. Certainly Satan is involved in a rebellious heart. The problem is the human heart, and the problem is Satan's kingdom—both! The result of these two influences is the paganization of our culture. There has always been the immorality of the human race, and there has always been the Satanic kingdom—as long as man's been in existence. So why is immorality prevailing more so now than ever before? The same reason that God wanted to end man's misery just prior to the Flood.
Genesis 6:5-6 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.
A culture that turns its back on God's morality automatically turns itself to destruction. We have, in the American culture, a culture of death. Our leaders say, in response to the Columbine High School killings, that violence is no way to solve a problem. This is what they lecture the children; and yet, meanwhile, violence is glorified in the media. Every few years we attack and bomb Yugoslavia, or Iraq, or some other place in the world; but then we turn around and tell our children, "You shouldn't be violent." We make money off of the media showing that it is okay to slam a person to the ground in cruelty; and yet, we tell the children out of the other side of our mouth (as a society) not to be violent.
This culture of death is a culture of the abortion of "undesirables." If the government says that you have the perfect right to kill an unwanted child just because it is inconvenient, then what is wrong with these child assassins being consistent in saying, "I can kill somebody who is not only an inconvenience but who irritates me." That is what these children are saying in these high schools, when they are shooting these other students. That is a better reason—if we compare evil to evil—than for killing a baby that is merely 'inconvenient.'
The paganization of our culture—this culture of death—is the result of morality without God's law, which produces the imposition of humanly reasoned morality and ethics founded on Satanic rebellion (and no less). Public schools and our courts are now forbidden to give God's laws as a reason for their judgment. Recently there was a judge who "made the mistake" of quoting the sixth commandment in sentencing a criminal for murder. (Keep in mind, he was sentencing—so the criminal had been convicted of murder.) The judge told the criminal, "Thou shall not kill. That's what the good Book says." Believe it or not, they threw the case out of court because he had quoted the Bible. Quoting the Bible made his judgment illegal, because it imposed an unpopular morality (and that was God's). That is incredible—how distorted the reasoning has become!
We see that the supposed 'neutrality' of this culture is anti-Christian. Teachers and counselors are forbidden to use the Bible as a guide to moral and ethical behavior. They can use almost any other book except this one [the Bible]—the right one. There is a hypocritical supposed 'neutrality' in the courts and in the schools towards Christianity. They say: "We're not against religion. We're not against any religion. We're neutral toward religion." That is what the state and educational systems try to tell us. But what does the Creator God say about that? He says, "You're either with Me, or you're against Me. There's no in between." Those who impose their own morality to replace God's morality will be punished.
Jeremiah 50:10-13 "And Chaldea [which here represents any enemy against God] shall be plunder; all who plunder her shall be satisfied," says the LORD. "Because you were glad, because you rejoiced, you destroyers of My heritage, because you have grown fat like the heifer threshing grain, and bellow like bulls, your mother shall be deeply ashamed. She who bore you shall be ashamed. Behold, the lease of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land and a desert. Because of the wrath of the LORD she shall not be inhabited, but she shall be wholly desolate. Everyone who goes by Babylon [or, everyone who takes part in this society] shall be horrified and hiss at all her plagues."
Spiritually, that is what is happening to us in our culture today—exactly as God said. These destroyers are outright enemies to God's people, but they are part of our society. The problem is morality without God's law. The problem is also certainly the willful moral state of the descendants of the ancient Israelites.
Look at mainstream Christianity. They are supposed to be the carriers of God's law—at least from a secular point of view. The Presbyterian Church, USA, is on record as being in favor of killing babies. The Methodist Church is also. The Episcopal Church is as well. The Lutheran Church is, and the liberal Baptists are as well. These all profess to be the moral voice of God Almighty on earth. And they are trying to impose their morality, which is distorted.
These people have an ethics that has no reference to the law of God, but only to their own feelings about things. They have humanly reasoned that the Bible's teachings are changeable to suit the current cultural situations. In Protestantism, it is hard to find a church at all, anywhere, that says morality is based on the Ten Commandments; and they are part of the problem here. They teach their people under the banner "We are not under law. We are under grace." That is true pertaining to salvation, but not pertaining to morality and ethics.
There is an antinomianism in the mainstream Christian churches that sometimes flows into the church of God. Antinomianism is the belief that, under the gospel dispensation of grace, the moral law is of no use or obligation—because faith alone is necessary for salvation. So you see how clever Satan is, in imposing his morality—even into the churches that claim to be followers of Christ. Even the conservative Southern Baptists have a worldview that is no different than that of the moral liberal churches. They give sermons about why you do not have to bother keeping the Sabbath. If this were true for the fourth commandment, why not the sixth commandment as well? Well, because they are picking and choosing—by quoting the cultural situations—on what is right and what is wrong. They do not truly have faith in God, that He is God.
A major problem with mainstream Christianity is that churches believe that they have the right to overrule God's law when they find it unpleasant. So they are, thereby, imposing their form of morality upon society as well. So we see not only the conflicting opposing morality of the atheist, but we also see the opposing morality of the mainstream "Christian" churches (who are not Christian at all—they just claim to be).
Now, let us take a slight change of direction here. Within this antinomian reasoning, why does morality even matter? The secular point of view today splits the human being into two entities. They divide the person from the body. The body is treated as an instrument for getting what "the self" wants—that is, pleasure and emotional satisfaction and other desires. The false dualism doctrine that has been promoted in secular society, as well as in mainstream Christianity (at times), states that the body is not really me. It is something other than my real self. It is something like a possession to be deployed or disposed of.
Thus, regarding abortion, secularists insist that a human embryo is merely a body—not a full person—and can be readily discarded. The same reasoning holds true in society for assisted suicide. Secularists (that is, the worldly), who decide that the body is giving them too much pain or bother, can opt for suicide and even demand that a physician help out. They also apply this same perverted reasoning to sex outside of marriage. That is, that the sexual union of two bodies does not necessarily mean the union of two persons on all levels of their being; but only that two cells are using their bodies for mutual pleasures, or affection. What a distorted, twisted viewpoint! And this is partly the belief in mainstream Christianity today.
To understand this perverse reasoning, we have to recognize the influence of Satan's doctrine of person-body dualism; and how he separates it out. He makes human beings think that it does not matter what you do with your body as long as your mind is somewhere else, or knows that it is wrong, or on and on it goes with the reasoning. The reasoning does not make any sense at all.
James speaks of the violation of our holiness through the improper use of our tongue—as an instrument of gossip, or harsh words towards another person. I want to zero in here on how he talks about the whole body. He pulls it together as one, not separating it out.
James 3:2-6 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he same is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. [That is, the mind and the physical body.] Indeed, we put bits in the horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.
When we violate our whole body, we violate our integrity. Integrity actually means wholeness. It comes from that root, and it is the quality of being in a complete and unbroken condition in its entirety. Sex outside of marriage disintegrates us spiritually and decays us physically. That is why sex outside of marriage is so devastating. It shatters the integrity of our being, and also of anyone that is affected by it.
To our sex-saturated society, it makes no sense that adultery is against God and the Bible. They accuse us of imposing morality, by saying that it is wrong. But what is really at stake here? First, person-body dualism is radically dehumanizing. It provides the justification for a host of sinful practices—not only guilt-free adultery, but also homosexuality, abortion, fetal experimentation, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and disregard for all human life. These practices strip the body of its intrinsic dignity and treat it as a commodity to be used, managed, and even disposed of—if it suits our desires.
The second thing that is at stake is that, if we engage in these practices, we deceive ourselves by embracing a false view of human nature. We sever the body from "the self"—destroying its integrity and its wholeness. We experience spiritual disintegration. If people truly understood what adultery does (that it leads to disintegration of the human being), then they would not dismiss it so lightly. But they do not think that far. And when they are presented with it, they say, "I don't want to think about it."
The third thing that is at stake is that we must constantly expose the secular myth that personal behavior has no effect on public morality. The disintegrated individual is incapable of forming and sustaining virtuous character, because "the self" advocates more control over to the passions and impulses. And without character, we cannot maintain relationships of trust. So disintegrated individuals, in turn, create disintegrated communities. We can see, then, that it is not just a personal moral problem. It is a problem that effects all of mankind—because it destroys nations, communities, and families.
Mankind has been plagued by evil ever since Satan deceived Eve. But why is it so strong now—that even school children are involved in mass murders? First, we see how evil the human heart is when it is not suppressed or positively influenced by Christian culture. Churches, courts, schools turn away from God and His law. So there is not anywhere in society any more that is truly promoting God's morality. We find that their way has become evil and bitter, just as God said it would. And the solution is certainly not 'more of the same.' It is not more of that which is producing hallways full of murder. It's not more secular counseling. It is not more psychologists. It is not more of the utopian speak. It is not more of unbiblical law—but a return to God and His law, His morality.
Biblical morality and ethics is simply living righteously. That is, doing what is good and refraining from what is evil—in accordance to the will of God. It refers not to human theories or opinions about what is right or wrong, but to God's revealed truth about these matters. Questions of human conduct prevail throughout the Bible. God's revelation through His written Word narrates the story of man's moral and ethical failure. And we are called to holiness, because we are God's people.
Leviticus 11:45b You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
The New Testament counterpart to this principle is found in Matthew 5.
Matthew 5:48 "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."
God gave the law to the nation of Israel as a standard of righteousness forever. It is the revealed will of God for His people. When the Ten Commandments were given through Moses, they were introduced with a statement supporting the relationship that had already been established between God and His people, whom He delivered from Egypt.
Deuteronomy 5:6 "I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."
It was a very close relationship beginning at that time. This connection between God's demands and His grace means that biblical morality and ethics must always be understood in terms of what God has already done for His people. The ultimate Standard of morals and ethics is Jesus Christ and His teachings. The moral and ethical teachings of Jesus sums up the true meaning of the Old Testament law. Following His teachings fulfills the law. The Ten Commandments, for example, are referred to as positive ethical instruction in the New Testament.
Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For this, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, all are summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
It stands to reason that the world's rejection of God's law of righteousness—His moral law and ethical behavior—is a rejection of true love for others. Therefore the world's morality is a morality of hate. Here we see the contrast. God imposes a morality of love, and this society imposes a morality of hate. Whose imposed morality do you want? Of course, that is obvious. But if you would ask whose imposed morality the world wants, they would say "a morality of love;" and yet they follow a morality of hate.
Jesus' commandment to love is the essence of Christian ethics and morality. When a Pharisee asked Jesus to identify the great commandment in the law, you know what Jesus' answer was.
Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
The apostle Paul also declared, as we read above that all the commandments are summed up in this saying—namely, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Those are Paul's words.)
While love is the summary of Christian morality and ethics, the New Testament contains many specific ethical instructions. The basic pattern of this ethical teaching is the contrast between our old existence (before faith in Christ, and repentance) and our new existence in Him. We are called to leave behind our old conduct and to put on the new—that is, the new man—to walk in newness of life and to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
Although we are free from the law, we are not to use that liberty as an opportunity for the flesh.
But through love, we are to serve one another. Love is best expressed through service and self-giving, as Jesus stated in Matthew 20:26-27. To state the obvious, God the Father and Jesus Christ are the supreme example of righteousness. Christian ethics are summed up not only in Christ's teaching but in His life as well. True discipleship consists of following Jesus and being conformed to His image.
Ephesians 5:1-3 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma. But fornication, and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints.
The call for righteousness is directed to the individual, but morality and ethics also have an important social dimension. The centrality of love indicates this very clearly. The prophets of the Old Testament emphasized the connection between righteousness and social justice. The ethical teaching of the Bible as followed by us (hopefully) will have an impact on the world.
Matthew 5:13-16 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and to trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
In spite of all these truths, the Bible does not call for a social program to be imposed upon the world at this time. The morality and ethics of the Bible are for the people of God. The Sermon on the Mount is for the disciples of Christ. If we, as Christians, follow biblical morality and ethics—the world will be effected for the good, by our example. We must impose God's morality on the world by our example of following God's morality.
We have the authority as parents in our own homes to impose God's morality on our children; and we should. We should never, ever, apologize to anyone in the world for imposing God's morality on our children. The government and individuals in the world do not have the authority to keep us from teaching God's Word to our children. Whether it be under threat of prison sentence or whatever, they have not God's authority to do that.
As things get worse in the world, we are going to be tested on these things; and we are going to have to be very close to God and have strength from God, through His Holy Spirit, to be able to bear up under such things. But we have to know what morality we are following, and it cannot be the morality of this world.
Mankind has always had someone's morality imposed upon him—either God's, or Satan's, or man's. For the last 6,000 years, God has not imposed His morality on the entire world. He only imposed it upon the Israelites and their descendants. Today God imposes His morality on His church, and that morality is administered through His ministry. In the future, He will impose His morality on His kingdom, because it will be a kingdom of love; and God's morality is an imposed morality of love.
Remember in the movie, The Ten Commandments, when Yul Brynner (as Pharaoh) came back and Nefritiri was standing there and griping and complaining and teasing and chiding him (and worse); and he said, "Moses' god is God." Well, the same could be said for morality. God's morality is morality! So resist the world's morality.