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You Don't Get to Write the Rules


In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Judges 21:25

I once read that Willie Nelson, the acclaimed country star, bought his own golf course. Somebody asked what "par" was for the course. "Anything I want it to be," he replied. "See that hole over there? It is a par 47." Then he added with a rather cheeky smile, "And yesterday, I birdied it."

That's funny. Although what is not so laughable is that this story is a sad and sorry parable regarding the morality of many in our culture today. It seems that an increasing number of people don't believe in fixed or universal axioms of moral behavior. Right and wrong is determined by whatever the situation requires or whatever they believe is in their best interest. Ours is a day not unlike the time of the Judges when, because there was no king in Israel every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). Ours is also a day not unlike that of the prophet Isaiah when men call evil good, and good evil (Isa. 5:20). Our increasingly secular society is rewriting the rules on morality (Judges 2:10). In a postmodern world there is no king or kingdom that rules over all, "all the ways of man are pure in his own eyes" (Prov. 16:2, 25; 21:2; 30:12). Each man is a law unto himself, and each social group its own kingdom. Man is autonomous, and free to indulge his sexual desires, decide his gender, live his life, and even end his life as he sees fit. This is the brave new world of ethics!

Given this developing and destructive reality, Christians must not allow themselves to be squeezed into the world's mold (Rom. 12:1-2). We must swim against the tide in terms of our thinking, and actions (1 Peter 4:1-6). We must reject expediency and secular humanism for to be carnally minded is death (Rom. 8:6-7). Our sense of right and wrong must be shaped by a Christian worldview, one rooted in the fear of God, and held captive to obedience to Christ (Prov. 1:7; 2 Cor. 10:5). Just as the physical world is governed by natural laws, such as gravity, so there is a moral component to life, which according to the Bible, is guided and governed by a just God who is righteousness in character, and deeds (Deut. 32:4; Psa. 18:30; 145:17). God's righteous character manifest in His works, revealed to us in His law, and ultimately put on display in the perfect life of His Jesus Christ, is the standard for what is right, pleasing, and acceptable. There is no moral vacuum in the world that allows man to write his own rules. God has written His own set of rules that are binding on all men, rules not only written on stone, but on the hearts of men (Ex. 31:18; Rom. 2:15).

As a society we must retreat from this idea that it must be right for it feels good. Good is not a feeling, nor is it expediency in a given circumstance. Rather it is conformity to God's moral character, and biblical commands. It is a life patterned after Christ. Right is that which mirrors God's righteousness. What is acceptable behavior is determined by what pleases God, and promotes His glory. Let us remember that it is never wrong to do right if God prescribes it, and it is never right to do wrong if God prohibits it. As Bob Jones Sr. used to say: "Do right though the stars fall"! (Mat. 24:35)