God IS the standard.

PrintWhat is the standard for morality? Is it arbitrary, did God create it, can he change it? I was mulling over how I would answer these questions this week. I knew that I would want to explain that true righteousness can only be found in Christ. That morality is not arbitrarily what God “decides it should be”. Why can I say this so confidently? Because God IS the standard of morality. He IS Righteousness. As the sermon on the mount puts it, when we hunger and thirst for righteousness we are satisfied. We are satisfied not because of a law or a code that is found, or decided upon, but because to be filled with righteousness is to be filled with God. The living, powerful God Who has no beginning or end. The unchanging (immutable) God. Since He is eternal and immutable, then all that is truly Good and Perfect also does not change and did not begin; because He was, and is, and is to come. The world’s standard changes with the whim of pop culture, with the urges and desires of man, but God remains unchanged and Holy. God is the standard of morality.

All that is in opposition to Who God is, His Purity, His Holiness, is therefore in opposition to God himself. That is why God describe those who have their minds set upon satisfying the very urges that oppose Him, as His enemy.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:7-8

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

This is kind of scary, I mean every time we decide to indulge the desires of the flesh we are literally taking a stand against God. Against THE God of the universe who determines are very breath and life.

However, when we choose to submit our mind and bodies to Him, we are taking a stand against the ruler of all that opposes God as James 4:7-8 says

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

I was thinking about this even further, I mean there has been times in my life where although what I was doing was “technically” or “legalistically” (in a religious sense) acceptable I knew that God did not want me to do it. He was calling me to trust Him and obey Him. Although I could be justified before man, I couldn’t before Him because it was not God’s will for my life. What then? If it is in opposition to God’s will, it is in opposition to Him. Disobedience, or to violate/fail to respect and comply with God’s will, is therefore immorality in and of itself. It is immoral, or wrong, to oppose what is perfect and pure, to oppose God.

How are we to know what God’s will is for our life? Romans 12:1-2 has the answer:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

In other words, as our minds are transformed by the Spirit we begin to have discernment and are able to better hear God’s voice. To better see the way God has for us. But, in order for this to happen we must repent and give up, or sacrifice our sinful ways. We must submit to God so that His Spirit can be in control, instead of our own desires.

God calls us to do this now, while we still have breath, before our soul passes outside of time, into eternity. He sits upon the law in a seat of mercy. Christ’s perfect blood has been shed to pay the price for sinful opposition and to protect all who come and bow before Him, the Holy One. Death has been defeated so that in God’s great mercy life can be restored to those who were at enmity with the Author and Giver of Life. Not because of anything done on the part of the enemy, but because God IS Love, unconditional love.

Romans 14, Steak or Veggies

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Romans 14:19-23

When I read this I started with the end of the chapter, which are the verses above, specifically “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves“. This line in isolation is really confusing and just highlights why it is not good to take a verse out of context. How can someone condemn himself by not keeping something just between them and God and by approving it? Why should we keep a conviction between just us and God? Doesn’t God want us to share what He is teaching us with others? What is Paul talking about?

After reading the whole chapter (context!) I now understand what Paul is saying. Paul spends a lot of time talking about eating meat vs just veggies because that was a big issue religiously speaking during his time. Still today this could be a factor in some relationships. He does mention wine at the end of the chapter and today I think that is a much more relevant topic overall. However, you can plug a myriad of disputable things into the chapter (tattoos, getting dressed up on Sunday morning, what day you go to church, etc.). I’m going to focus on alcohol just because Paul does specifically mention wine and it is still very relevant.

Today you’ll find Christians who proclaim it to be a sin to drink any sort of alcohol and pass judgement on those who do, and then you find Christians who do not feel guilty about enjoying a margarita or a fresh brewski and who openly flaunt their freedom to do so (as long as they aren’t getting drunk), putting down Christians who feel guilty drinking as “old fashioned prudes”. Paul addresses both ends of the spectrum pointing out the sinfulness of both judgement and of approving a behavior that can cause someone else to stumble in their faith.

One of the most well-known Bible verses, and probably most misused is “do not judge lest ye be judged” from the sermon on the mount. What I mean by misused and misquoted is that it is often taken out of context and used to “justify” blatant sinful behavior. The Bible does say that drunkenness is sinful, and commands us not to be controlled by anything but the Holy Spirit, or in other words not to be controlled by a drug of some sort. For some, who struggle with addiction or who are living in (or grew up around drunkenness), starting to drink alcohol can be a very slippery slope that causes them to fall away in their journey of faith by allowing something else other than God to control them, or to become their “go to” for relaxation and “happiness” after work and on the weekends. For someone in this situation they may choose to abstain from alcohol. Either for the protection of their own faith, or to be an example to people in their family that true satisfaction comes from the Lord. This is right for them to do, since Romans 14 states that anyone who does partake in a disputable activity with doubt about whether it is ok for them to do so is sinning. However, when someone in this situation begins to take it upon themselves to force their own policy upon others, or judging others who do partake in alcohol (again not drunkenness), then their judgment becomes sin. They are right to abstain because of their own convictions, but wrong to judge about a disputable matter, and therefore sin in that way.

On the flip-side from judgement for behavior, there is sinning by approval of a behavior through word or action. The Bible verse quoted above “blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves” is exponentially less popular than the judgement verse. How come? Cause it is hard to “justify” sinful behavior with this one. But again, what does it mean in context of the chapter? Paul explains that if you are strong enough in your faith to enjoy “a cold one”, but then you openly put someone down who finds it wrong for themselves to drink, then you are in fact condemning yourself by what you approve with your words and your behavior. The act of putting down the person who feels convicted to abstain is unloving. Flaunting your freedom to drink a glass of wine can very easily tempt someone who struggles with addiction to fall back into their vice, or who is trying to be an example to family to cave in their convictions. This is unloving. Why? Because when you put the other down, or when you flaunt your behavior or even just your approval of it in word, you are caring more about “being right” or about “doing what makes you feel good”, just like the person who judges you for drinking does.

When we care more about being right or about doing what we want, then we care more about us and the disputable matter than we do about the salvation of others. We therefore condemn ourselves by our approval (whichever way you approve) because you are guilty of loving yourself more than your neighbor. Christ Himself said that the greatest law is to love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength, and the second is to love your neighbor as your yourself. What is the one thing God cares about most? The redemption and salvation of people for His glory. It is His will that none should perish. So if we are truly going about our Father’s business then we will care more about the redemption and salvation of people than “being right” or about flaunting our freedom in Christ by partaking in something that could cause someone else to stumble in their faith.

That is why Paul says to keep your conviction to yourself, and to work your salvation out with trembling before a Holy God (Philippians 2). He reminds us in Romans 14 that we will each stand before God on judgement day–alone. We are each accountable to God, not based on technicalities of obedience, but as to whether or not Jesus Christ was our Lord on earth. If we are living in submission to God through Christ by the power of the Spirit then we will love Him and therefore love others.

In other words, care more about the salvation of others. Even if that means paying closer attention to what you are wearing, what you are drinking, or paying attention to what you are saying about disputable matters, or even if it means keeping quiet about your convictions, then do it. Be aware of and concerned about their walk with God. Their walk with God is more important. That is the loving and peaceful thing to do.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31


Notice how Paul opens up the chapter with the keywords “disputable matters.” There are black and white matters that are not disputable laid out in scripture that clearly tells us what right or wrong  is, in many areas. There are also scriptural instruction for how to judge and address sinful behavior. (i.e. Galatians 6, 1 Corinthians 5, Titus 1, Matthew 18).

Learning about God – by “listening” to the Prayers made in Public throughout Scripture

This post is currently being updated and more observations will be added as I go through the public prayers listed on the Verses on Prayer page. Currently I have left off after 2 Chronicles 20:1-29.

What do we learn about God by studying the public prayers made throughout scripture?

We learn that:

  • Our strength is lifted up in the Lord
  • God is salvation
  • There is none holy like the Lord
  • There is none besides God
  • There is no Rock like our God
  • The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by Him all actions are weighted
  • The Lord slays and makes alive, the Lord brings down to Sheol and raises up
  • The Lord makes poor and makes rich
  • The Lord brings low and He lifts up
  • The Lord raises up the poor out of the dust and lifts up the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with nobles and inherit the throne of glory
  • The pillars of the earth are the Lord’s and He has set the world upon them
  • The Lord will guard the feet of His godly ones
  • Against His adversaries will the Lord thunder in heaven and they will be broken to pieces
  • The Lord will judge to the ends of the earth
  • The Lord will give strength to His King and exalt the power of His Anointed
  • there is no God like the Lord in heaven above or on earth beneath
  • God keeps His covenant and shows mercy and loving kindness to His servants who walk before Him with all their heart
    (we know from other scripture that God also keeps His covenant with those who reject Him and His mercy)
  • God kept what He promised David, Salomon’s father. God spoke with His mouth and fulfilled it with His hand.
  • God is the God of Israel
  • The heavens and heaven of heavens cannot contain God
  • God and only God knows the hearts of all the children of men
  • God separated Israel out of all the peoples of the earth to be His heritage (and we know from other scripture that those who accept Christ as their savior are grafted into God’s people and those who do not believe will be pruned away Romans 11)
  • God is good and His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever
  • God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and of Israel
  • The Lord is God
  • To the Lord belongs the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory and the majesty
  • All that is in the heavens and the earth is God’s
  • To God belongs the kingdom
  • God is to be exalted as Head over all
  • Both riches and honor come from God
  • God reigns over all
  • In God’s hand are power and might
  • In God’s hands it is to make great and to give strength to all
  • God’s name is glorious
  • All things come from God and out of God’s own hand we give back to God (offering)
  • God’s Name is holy
  • God tries the heart and delights in uprightness
  • God is the God in heaven
  • God rules over all the kingdoms of the nations
  • In God’s hands are power and might, so that none are able to withstand Him
  • God drove out the inhabitants of the promised land before Israel and gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham, God’s friend
  • the battle is not our, but is God’s
  • God’s mercy and loving-kindness endure forever