Romans 2.12-16 – Your moral compass

So often nowadays we hear people justifying their lifestyle by saying things like “Only God can judge me”, which of course is true. Or sometimes people get all morally relative and say things like “I’m a good person, I’ve never killed anyone.”, but the comparison game has to come to a head somewhere, doesn’t it. Often people are working from their own moral compass, that thing inside of us that tells us whether something is right or wrong, our conscience. But the problem is that our consciences can be violated, as a result of our inherent sinful nature, our conscience can not be so true, and our moral compass can point somewhere other than true north. Paul speaks to this in Romans 2.12-16,

12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

We see that, basically, there is no excuse whether we have the law or not (v.12), and, actually, even if we hear the law, and even if we hear the Good News of Jesus, simply hearing doesn’t actually save us (v.13), we need to do something with it! 

Paul goes on to say that even those without the law in front of them can still abide by it because it is written onto their hearts (Jeremiah 31.33 and the New Covenant). This is a wonderful privilege we have; to be living under the New Covenant of grace and to have the law of the Lord written on our hearts. That still, small voice, the tug of the conscience from inside, our conflicting thoughts that accuse or excuse, this is all our moral compass at work.

Through being in right relationship with God the Father through faith in God the Son, Jesus, we have God the Holy Spirit living in us.

This guarantees us that our moral compass is pointing to the absolute True north and means that no matter the circumstance, situation, dilemma, or problem we may face that we always have the right path before us, because God has put His law within us, and it is written on our hearts

Point to ponder – Is my moral compass pointing True?

Prayer – Father thank you for the world changing, life giving sacrifice you made for us by sending your Son to die for our sins. We know that this was the turning point in the history of the world, and in our own lives too, when we came to acknowledge and accept this. Help us to keep our minds on your law, and help us to keep our moral compass pointing to You. Amen.

Interested in morality? Our worldview devotional series covers the four big questions a worldview has to answer; origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. 

Read it here.

Worldview 4/4 – Destiny

On to the final question our worldview must address; Destiny – What’s next? 

Death and then nothing…how sad. How bleak a prospect. Likewise, always being uncertain if you’ve done enough to earn your salvation must be just mind boggling…what a tense way to live. 

What does the Bible say? 

In chapter 21 of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, we are offered a description of what comes next, in the revelation that was given to John.
The Bible tells us that what comes next is the whole of reality being transformed, new heavens, new earth, new bodies…God and humankind once again in close relationship. In short, we are reconciled completely. Heaven is not a place of earthly pleasures personified, it’s totally new. It’s not a spring clean of what we’ve got now – get rid of the cobwebs and give it a lick of paint – it’s a total revamp. 

So that’s what the Bible says, but what does this mean for us?

Simply, we can live with eternity in mind, with an eternal mindset.

It means we can live confidently, knowing our earthly tents – as much as we may like them, or not like them for that matter – are just that; tents. Temporary dwellings.

John 1:14 says this,

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Greek verb used here for dwelt is ’skenoo’, it means literally ‘to tent’, ‘to tabernacle’, ‘to sojourn’. So here we have Jesus being described as taking a tent among us, pitching up in a tent to show us the way. 

But just because they’re temporary, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of our tents, far from it, the Bible says physical exercise is of some benefit (sorry to break that to you), but it does mean that we can adopt a long term mindset, as Jesus taught, storing up treasures for ourselves in heaven which can never be taken away because we won’t live in these earthly tents forever!

Hope for the future rooted in God is multi-faceted. It offers a hope of heaven, but it also provides hope for today…belief in an immutable, personal God gives us an unflinching hope for both the future and the present (J. Warner Wallace)

So it’s time to tie all this together, to pick out a constant that’s present in all four of the things we’ve touched on.
When faced with questions or looking for answers about life, its meaning, its morals or its future, I would exhort you to start with God in Jesus for those answers.

The impact of a Jesuslens on life then is this, it answers the four key questions…

Origin – We are of infinite value. We have dignity. We are made on purpose, in His image.
Meaning – There is a purpose to life. Glorify God. Serve. Love. Be conformed into His image.
Morality – Jesus did something to fix the evil in the human heart. As we come to know Him, we get a totally different understanding of right and wrong.
Destiny – At the resurrection God is beginning to remake all of creation.

Looking at life through a Jesus-shaped lens versus not is like looking at technicolour v black and white, HD v standard definition, or listening to surround sound v mono.

A Jesus lens on life offers a new way of thinking, seeing, and doing, based on a new way of being. 

It’s like looking at this picture, 

or this one…

Worldview 3/4 – Morality

Today we continue with our four-part devotional on worldview and now the ethical question; Morality – How do I differentiate between good and evil? 

Can we live without God? Can we determine for ourselves what is good and what is evil?
Without God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, is it possible to make good decisions when faced with difficulties?

Atheist ethicist (oxymoron, no?) Kai Nelson –

“Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.” 

Atoms, particles, logic, or reason cannot impart on us an ‘ought to’ can they…

We all have a sense of morality, objective morality. By this, I mean something is objective if it does not depend on the opinions or beliefs of another person, or even many people to make it true. In other words, whether everyone else agrees with you or disagrees with you about something, you know it’s right/wrong. A wise man once told me, ‘James, you just know it in your knower…‘.

Simply, our morality flows from His nature…we are made in His image (Genesis 1.26-27).

This implies an absolute, and we cannot make sense of the objectivity of morality without God.

We have an inbuilt sense of right and wrong, stemming from God Himself, the Bible tells us that God has written His laws onto our hearts (Jeremiah 31.33, Hebrews 10.16, 8.10). 

Our Christian lens on the world tells us that God is goodness itself (Mark 10.18, Psalm 119.68), and our Christian lens tells that in the face of moral decisions, there is a sense of ‘oughtness’, there is a sense of compulsion to do something, or to refrain from something. 

Simply, our view of morality, of Truth, is personified in Jesus Christ. Contrary to the teachings and beliefs of human philosophers and others, Truth, absolute Truth, exists. Truth” occurs 141 times in 130 verses in the ESV. 

And here’s the impact, the take-home, this means we have the answers to every ethical difficulty, dilemma, or decision we ever need to make.

Truth is recorded in God’s Word, John 17.17 says ‘…your word is truth.’, and Psalm 119.160 says ‘…the sum of your word is truth.’ We can find the answers to life’s questions in the Bible, wherein we read the Word of God.

Truth is meant to be the focal point of our lives. We are to know the Truth and to live it, and with Jesus and a Christ-shaped lens on life, we can, for His glory.

Worldview 2/4 – Meaning

Last time we said that a worldview to has to answer four big, basic questions, and today, number two, Meaning; is there purpose to life?

Other worldviews would say no, there is no such thing as a ‘why’ question…we are but a brief spark in infinite blackness. That sounds kind of dreary and dull, no? One day, our spark will go out, as does a match, then, (insert noise of person blowing out match here as you so desire), its all gone. 

Philosopher Bertrand Russell said this…

“…only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

Macbeth seemed to agree, didn’t he…

… Out, Out, brief candle
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot. Full of sound and fury signifying nothing. 

How sad. Nothing but despair, no meaning, no point…bleak.
Now I don’t know about you, but plodding through life with despair as your major outcome, the thing that your life is all about…no thanks.

Others would say that God gave the universe meaning and purpose, but we can never know that purpose…we must simply obey and do good.

But what does the God of the Bible say? Almighty God through His Word tells us that there is meaning to life…to glorify Him, to know Him…

Our very purpose is relationship, the meaning of our life is relationship…with God Himself…revealed in the person of Jesus (John 10.30, 14.9, Colossians 1.15-20).

Apologist Ravi Zacharias states

“The person of God revealed in Christ is the answer to life. And those who deny the existence of God and the Saviour provided by Him ultimately end up with no moral law, no hope, no meaning, and if they are wrong, no recovery.”

As believers, as followers of Jesus, we have a special place in bringing Glory to God. We are to begin glorifying Him by our life as we live it right now. Not when our earthly life ends…right…now. Being sure you’re going to heaven is great, if you’re dieing. If you’re living, what do we do?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

(1 Corinthians 10.31).

The Bible has specific instructions in many places on how to run our lives. It tells us how to run our marriage, our business affairs, our employed lives, and how to conduct ourselves in society and in the church…all in a way that brings glory to God through Jesus Christ. 

So what does this mean for us? 

This marvelous truth has important implications for all of life’s decisions. We cannot live as if we are independent and free to do whatever we might decide to do. If we are Christians, we don’t own ourselves (1 Peter 1.18-19).

When all of this is taken together, a balanced Christian life will emerge. We will not be either lazy or workaholics; we will have an ordered family with a loving atmosphere; we will serve God in every way as we week to know Him better. 

This is how life is to be lived — our life is not separated into our “private, religious life” and our “secular” life. The life of a Christian is to be one seamless tapestry, with all parts working together to glorify Him who made us, Him who saved us, and Him who changes us. 

Worldview 1/4 – Origin

This is post number one in a mini-series of devotionals that all centre on the topic of worldview.

Everyone has one, whether we know it or not, and it forms and shapes our basic assumptions, opinions, actions, and conclusions.

A worldview to has to answer four big, basic questions, and today, number one,

Origin; where did I come from? What does it mean to be human?

Looking at other worldviews is not bad thing, Os Guinness said,

“Contrast is the mother of clarity.”

So in the spirit of contrast, some would say only materialism exists, there is no God, nothing spiritual, nothing supernatural. They would say that humans are simply physical, no soul or spirit.

How sad.

Others would say that the world was created by an all powerful creator, but, ultimately, this creator is unknowable. That must be very frustrating, never really knowing.

But, what does the Bible say? The Bible, in which we read the Word of God to us, says this,

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1.1)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1.1-4)

Humans are, at the most simple level, relational beings, we were made for community. As such, when most of us are assessing our worldview, deciding which lens we will look at the world through, most of us aren’t actually looking for a what, for pure empirical evidence, whether we know it or not most of us are actually looking for a who.

To define a truly Christian worldview, the only worldview that can consistently stand up to the deepest scrutiny, the only worldview that is airtight, internally consistent, corresponds to reality, and is liveable, to define this worldview, we must start with God.

God in Jesus. Jesus as God incarnate – literally God in the flesh – we must start with Jesus.

He explains the origins of everything, He defines the fact that as humans we have value. If we did not have value and a place in the origin of everything, then would God have given His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life?

C.S. Lewis said this on the Christian worldview,

“…if false, [it] is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance.”

So, origin, where do we come from, and what does it mean to be human?

The Word of God answers both; we are made by Him who set the foundations of the world, who spoke it into existence, and to be human means to be valued, and loved, by this same, real, personal, knowable God.

Next, the second big question, Meaning; is there purpose to life?