RIGHT AND WRONG – GOOD AND BAD?
You’ve heard it said: “There’s good and bad in everyone…”
(as an aside – check out Paul McCartney’s song: Ebony and Ivory)
* “There’s good and bad in everyone…” Now there’s a statement for you.
What does it mean?
Have you got six weeks, while I address the whole subject?
The following will have to do as we make a start anyway.
Concerning our opening statement* we can take the easy route – and simply agree, and leave it at that. Most people think they know what is meant by this statement.
But then, is it also right that there are varying degrees of good and varying degrees of bad? I would say it is self-evident that there are.
However that the human – nature is intrinsically and mysteriously flawed is also self-evident.
I could go for my preacher hat straight away and lay some scriptures on you.
But instead I’d like to lead-up to that possibility.
Firstly where does our personal idea of good and bad come from i.e. in our individual experience?
Well – keeping it simple – it comes from our inner knowledge.
We may feel philosophically highfalutin and hold the view that – really good and bad is subjective and there are no absolutes when it comes to the subject.
But then things happen.
Your house is broken into and your possessions stolen, or worse still your house is burnt to the ground.
The person holding the view that good and bad is a subjective thing only, are suddenly flabbergasted by this event.
Rightly offended or devastated by this intrusion and assault upon their sensibilities.
So can we say then that it is universally subjective, i.e. common to us all to feel this response? I think we can.
So it’s not too big a statement to say that we would all feel the same violation in this instance.
Good and bad is more than simply something dependent upon our subjective perspective, but based on what the law reveals to us all.
Even those who reject the law of God, as in the law provided by Jehovah, as in provided by Christ The Lord, have – we are told – a form of the law written within the human psyche.
Romans 2:14-15 King James Version (KJV)
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
This is something that is inescapable, unless we hold to some kind of nihilistic anarchistic self-destructive philosophy. We cannot escape the sense of right and wrong that we all have.
Now of course in certain things, what is acceptable or not acceptable varies from culture to culture.
But let’s start by acknowledging that there is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the first place.
And to simplify the whole discussion – I hold to the law of God as revealed in the Old and New Testament. I believe it is the supreme guide for all of mankind.
Those who do not see the Bible as inerrant, have reason to hold the view that certain immoral practices are morally acceptable.
After all who or what has the right to challenge their point of view? If there is no supreme being who makes His will clearly known to mankind and has given a law to inform us of what is acceptable and not?
The Bible is an inerrant divinely inspired pure guide to all behaviour, telling us clearly what is right and what is wrong.
If you want to discuss a particular way of acting or living you consider acceptable i.e. ‘right’, but I find it ‘wrong’ – my reference straight away is to the bible, as I state my case.
But If you do not accept it (the bible) as the perfect guide – there is no need for further discussion. That’s where we disagree.
No need to argue. The bible plainly says it is wrong, but you feel we have somehow moved on from what it says. Whereas I consider it (the bible) inerrant and there is no moving on from it that does not end in disaster for the human race.
The bible is not open to private interpretation, and can’t be twisted to suit our self-created, self-centred preferences when it comes to behaviour.
We all need to understand it better but when it says: ‘you shall not steal’ it means it.
No – not when we are looking for a foundation on which to build before we discuss nuances.
If we do not have a starting point, we have only multiple human-dreamt-up preferences described in scripture as:
6 …but every man did that which was right in his own eyes
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…
So a world full of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes is confusion personified.
There is a higher revealed order. There is a universal guide found in the world’s best-seller. The so called contradictions man finds in the book, are the result of man’s unaided conclusions as he exalts his own intellect above that of The Most High, and lays aside weightier matters whilst ‘straining at gnats’ with his own ingenuity. (Matthew 23/24)
Thinking himself superior than the divine wisdom revealed in the New Testament.
A call to humility is God’s first requirement. Then we have a chance of change and have a chance of the eyes of our understanding being enlightened.
We read Paul The Apostle, as he starts us on the road to understanding law, in the epistle to the Romans saying: Romans 7/
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”
So sin exists – it is the universal affliction in the nature of man – and in case we are in any doubt about this – the law keeps us right.
But this is only part of the story of the good news of the gospel. Nevertheless in an increasingly lawless world, it seems man does not want to be corrected, by any kind of law.
But in the governments of all countries there exists an implementation of law, whether they implement the righteous law of God, or what is the dictates of a dreamt up regime that seeks to rule with an iron hand, calling for bondage and servitude to their selfish demands.
Breaking the law of God – and we look for punishment. Sincere confession of having broken the law and The God of all grace is willing to forgive and receive us as sons.
There is good and bad in everyone? Maybe, but perfection? – No.
That’s why the gospel offers us salvation as a free gift, if we acknowledge the scripture: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
No one escapes the punishment of the law, unless someone else takes their punishment.
Thank you Jesus for taking mine!