Topical Studies

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What the Bible says about Values, Source of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ezekiel 20:23-26

This passage portrays a critical point regarding why Israel was taken into captivity. There is no doubt Israel was a religious people. Yet, notice the emphasis on the personal pronoun "My." Their source of values was not God. Realizing the source of any given value or moral standard will go a long way toward determining its rightness and therefore its efficacy.

Romans 6:15-19 helps to clarify this:

What then? Shall we sin [transgress God's law] because we are not under the law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

The source of a person's values will determine his righteousness or his sinfulness. In addition, then, the source of the values to which he submits will also establish who is the sovereign in his life and of whom he is a servant. Finally, the source also determines whether idolatry is present and how the individual's conscience will be affected and respond.

If the source of values is man, then man is the sovereign. This can be perfectly acceptable as long as the value one obeys agrees with God's values. Any person's values may come from society in general, his family practices, his peers, or even his spouse. One often hears the justification, "Everybody's doing it," as a defense. The source of that value is "everybody"!

Understanding the source helps to reveal the sin of idolatry in a clear but disgusting light. The Israelites of Ezekiel 20 apparently could, in all sincerity and with a clear conscience—and perhaps even with fervency—sacrifice their firstborn to Moloch! This is a vivid example of how twisted a person's thinking and conscience can become by believing a corrupt source.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment

Romans 14:22-23

Paul is dealing with a clash of values within an individual. Confronting a situation in which two distinctly different moral or ethical alternatives exist can produce puzzlement and fear. Such a situation has the potential to leave a person conscience-stricken after doing what he permits himself to do.

If there were no differences between what a person is permitted to do and what he actually does, there would be no self-doubt or self-condemnation to be concerned about. However, the reality is that differences arise. This often occurs when the individual has learned a value in his past, but he is challenged by a different value in the present. This leads to a number of overlapping questions that we need to consider:

» What is the source of what we permit ourselves to do?

» Where did our values originate?

» Where did we form our values?

» Are we sure we are right even when we are not conscience-stricken? This last question is necessary because people can be absolutely wrong while sincerely thinking that they are right.

We should ask these questions of ourselves in areas such as business ethics, education, entertainment, athletics, fashion, diet, child-training, and marital relations—in other words, the entire framework of life, not just in the obvious areas of morality. Acts 18:25-26 reminds us that Christianity is a way of life, a course of conduct encompassing every aspect of life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment


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