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What the Bible says about Ethical Standards
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Judges 17:6

A conservative radio talk show out of Atlanta caught my ear one day as a discussion developed about the moral and ethical standards of youth today. Callers, young and old, gave their wisdom or the lack thereof. At one particular time, the subject matter had narrowed down to how young adults and teenagers evaluate what makes a person good or bad.

The next caller was Natalie, a 17-year-old girl who lives in an upper-middle-class neighborhood and achieves a B+ average in school. As her comments continued, it became clear that Natalie judged her own life by what others around her were doing and saying. Her moral and ethical standards did not come from the Bible or from standards taught to her by her parents. Her standards were based solely upon what was acceptable to her peers—those "wise" counselors who encourage individualism but all dress, act, and speak the same.

As Natalie vainly described her lifestyle, it was amazing to realize her total removal from reality and moral responsibility. She said she did not sleep around—she only has sex with her boyfriend (whoever that is that particular week). She does not drink alcohol—except at parties (which she attends several times a week). She defensively sighed, "I'm not bad, not like the others."

She claims she only smokes pot about two times during the school week and occasionally before school in the morning—but not as much as most kids. When she goes to school stoned, the teachers know it, but no one mentions it. According to Natalie, most kids in her high school smoke pot mixed with LSD "because they go together so well." She has tried it, but does not smoke it regularly (only a few times a month). Natalie admits, "Pot definitely affects my memory, definitely. There's a lot I can't remember. But everybody does it! I don't do it like the others. Not as often."

Natalie justified herself by saying, "I'm not bad, not like the others. I think I'm a pretty good person, I haven't killed anybody. I know it's wrong to do drugs, but it's the only thing I do wrong. I'm a pretty good person. I haven't killed anybody yet!"

The announcer was stunned, "Are you telling me, because you haven't killed anyone—yet—that makes you a good person?"

In a matter-of-fact way Natalie replied, "Well, yes!"

What a sad indictment of the society in which we live that children have descended to the level of moral bankruptcy. Natalie is a typical product of this society. She is the fruit of a nation that has rejected the way of the righteous God. As the children of Israel did throughout most of their history, Natalie does whatever seems right in her own eyes (Judges 17:6; 21:25).

Martin G. Collins
Comparing Ourselves Among Ourselves

Proverbs 14:12

We can see the truth of his statement in our society, which engages in situation ethics rather than morality. Our news—local, state and national—is full of examples. When asked why she still supported former President Clinton after his immorality hit television, radio and newsstands, a middle-aged woman replied, "Because he stands for social and political diversification." She was willing to "forgive" his dalliance in the Oval Office with an intern half his age because he supported a political agenda she also espoused!

Diversification means "engaging in assorted operations or producing variety." Synonyms are "variation," "multiplicity," and "mixture." As a basis for ethics, diversification implies variation from a fixed standard. Clinton's own actions—now regarded as acceptable by much of the public—illustrate that his ethical "standard" varies with his mood, desires, and aims. His ethic can plainly be stated as "the end justifies the means."

Moreover, many of the politicians who criticized him for his infidelity, impropriety, and deceit are guilty of the same sins. President Clinton's sins became public knowledge when the media reported every graphic detail. Many of those who reported these things hide similar skeletons in their closets, but until their indiscretions see the light of day, they will continue to make a public mockery of him.

Martin G. Collins
Comparing Ourselves Among Ourselves

Amos 5:12

Amos says that the people went to Bethel bearing abundant rebellions on their consciences, but they returned with them still there. Outwardly, they sinned because inwardly was a heart of rebellion. There was not any real concern about the rebellion in them.

If they had really sought God, they would begin to do something about these sins, their rebellions. A person who is really seeking God is so concerned about having God's approval that he will pay any price, make any sacrifice necessary to stop sinning and thus have His approval. These people did not care. They went right on sinning.

He shows them returning from Bethel unconcerned with what people were in their character (whether they were just or upright), but they were concerned about what they had and what they were prepared to pay as a bribe. This is the gist of, "You afflict the just and you take bribes." The poor person who was telling the truth had no chance in court unless he was willing to pay a bribe to those who were judging him.

These people were not concerned with morals or ethics but how much money, influence, and status they and others had so that they could use one another to get ahead.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Seeking God

Amos 8:9-10

These are subtle signs of a "ripe" society. When an earthquake strikes, one feels very unstable because he is not sure if the building will collapse and kill him. A similar type of instability occurs when society is rocked by crime, violence, immorality, and injustice. Amos describes the insecurity, bitterness, and death that result from failing to hold to the absolute standards of God.

One of the first signs of ripeness that society shows is instability. Just a few decades ago, most of us could leave our houses unlocked, but when society began to become unstable, we had to start locking our doors. In the recent past, we did not read a great deal about violence on the streets. Now society is so unstable that violence fills our news reports, and this constant source of worry produces more instability.

Within such a nation, all kinds of unstable factors constantly increase because everyone is running here and there in confusion. The confusion results from the lack of absolute standards of what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, ethical and unethical. Thus, everybody does his own thing. Violence, divorce, suicide, and mental illness increase. We see this in our societies every day.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)

Matthew 5:4

Those of us in this end-time age may have difficulty comprehending some aspects of the mourning God expects and respects in His children. Our conscience, unless we carefully guard it, can easily adapt itself into accepting its cultural environment. Society's ethics and morals are not constants. There exists a very real pressure for them to decline from God-established standards; what one generation considers immoral or unethical might not be by the next. For instance, what appears on public movie screens over the past thirty to forty years has changed dramatically.

In 1999, the President of the United States went on trial for clearly breaking God's commandments and for crimes for which lesser people are presently serving time. The public, however, gave him high approval ratings, perceived his adulteries and sexual perversions as private affairs, and considered his perjury before a grand jury as deplorable but "no big deal."

Paul warns us in Hebrews 3:12-15:

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

The mourning Jesus desires is the kind that exhibits a softness of heart that is ready for change in a righteous direction, one that knows it has done wrong and is eagerly willing to have it cleansed into holiness. We of this generation face an uphill battle because, through such media as television and movies, we have vicariously experienced the breaking of God's law in unparalleled frequency and in vividly sympathetic ways. On the screen life is cheap, property is meaningless, sexual purity is scoffed at, stealing is fine "if it's necessary," and faithfulness is nerdish and corny. Where is God in it? How much of this world's attitudes have we unwittingly absorbed into our character? Is our conscience still tender? Is mourning over sin—ours and others'—a vital part of our relationship with God?

Godly mourning plays a positive role in producing the changes God desires to produce His image in us. We need to pray with David, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). He asks God to give him what did not exist before, that his affections and feelings might be made right, and that he might not have the callused attitude that led him to adultery and murder. A plea of this kind is one that God will not deny. If we are truly serious about overcoming and glorifying God, it is well worth the effort.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Three: Mourning


 




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