“I will certainly judge you because you have said, ‘I have not sinned.’” (God speaking through Jeremiah to Judah, Jer. 2:35b HCSB)
In a nation that is increasingly rejecting Christianity and the Bible one must ask the question “what then becomes of sin?” If sin is , as the King James version of the Bible reads, “the transgression of the law” (John 3:4) but there is no validity to the Bible which is supposed to be God’s law what then becomes of sin? Does it cease to exist? Do those who reject the Bible as the word of God totally abandon the concept of sin? If they do not then upon what grounds do they propose to define sin?
If sin is not to be defined by God’s word and if sin is something other than transgression of God’s law then: (1) what is sin and how is it defined; what are the rules that, if broken, constitute sin? (2) What authority decides these things? (3) On what basis does that authority exist, how is that authority established? Is it political dominance and/or the might of arms that establishes authority? Is sin defined by power? How is such authority obtained? If the God of the Bible and his word are taken out of the picture then the authority cannot be of Christian origin. So, what is its origin?
Without the acceptance of the New Testament as the authority for defining sin the reality is there is no other alternative but man himself becoming the authority either as an individual or as a ruling party or institution made up of men. The problem then becomes what man or what group of men for we know not all are in agreement. A democrat and a republican are likely to have far differing views on a whole host of issues that call for moral and value judgments.
Likewise Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had vastly different values than did Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Reagan so who becomes the authority? Who decides? When Christianity is removed from the field whose ideology or world view do we follow? Is it communism, Islam (Isis?), Hinduism, where do we go, what becomes our foundation for deciding moral issues?
If we proclaim a world without sin, since we reject Christianity, God, and the New Testament as God’s word, then the only law man can break is manmade and solely dependent on the fist, the hand of power, for enforcement. Why then should I obey your set of values even if you enshrine them into law when the only reason you were able to do so was that you had power to enforce your will, power that I lacked? Political and legal power that comes from man does not equate with moral superiority; it never has and never will. Why is one individual to be respected over another as an authority figure on values if there is no God?
In such a world, much like the one that seems to be developing here in the West, sin becomes whatever some man or group of men or even the culture itself says it is but men do not live forever. A generation is soon gone and the next one takes its place. What the prior generation called sin now becomes righteousness under their new rule. Is this not exactly what we had with the gay marriage issue? Will this present generation who determined to have its own way minus God be praised by the next or will it be the case that it in turn will be denigrated for its narrow, restrictive, judgmental view on polygamy?
Liberalism once it gains momentum is hard to stop short of license. Just because one has not yet arrived at his destination does not mean he never will. A world without God is just that. There is no moral persuasion, no fear of God, to hold man back. Only the gun, the fear implicit in the power of force, can do that in a world without God. The question is who holds the gun in such a world, surely not a godly man. Liberalism given time to reap what it sows eventually ends up with an ungovernable society. When that happens democracy is lost.
Democracy can be abused resulting in self destruction. A people can vote themselves into a society where integrity no longer matters, where immorality is readily accepted as the new norm, where honesty and hard work are less important than a government subsidy, where what I have and what I am given is more important than my character, my values, and my beliefs. Great nations have risen and then fallen throughout history democracy or no democracy. We should not think ourselves to be immune.
Once we reject Christianity, the word of God as found in the New Testament as our guide for life, for the development of a set of values by which we will live, we have no firm ground to stand on for human values are ever shifting. Compare how Americans felt about such subjects as abortion, divorce, shacking up (it used to be called fornication), having children out of wedlock, and homosexuality in the 1950’s and compare it with how they feel about those same moral issues today in 2015. Do you think human values change with time within a culture or society?
Not all change in societal values is bad, for example the change in attitudes about interracial marriages and segregation have been positive changes, but when one builds his life on the public consensus of what is culturally correct at any given point in time he/she is building a life while standing on shifting sands that cannot be depended upon for stability. Those sands are sure to shift under you with time and are shifting imperceptibly under you even as you stand on them in any given year.
One might wish to argue that Christians themselves have changed their views on moral issues over the years so that if you just take the word of God alone as your basis for building a moral life you are no better off than anyone else. Sounds like a good argument but is it?
If I take a passage of scripture, say 1 Cor. 6:9-10, and quote it to you I ask: has the wording of that passage when correctly translated changed in the last two thousand years. Here is the passage:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (NKJV)
Have some men who call themselves Christians rejected parts or all of the passage? Surely so but the teaching (wording) of the passage itself is set in stone and will never change until the earth itself ceases to exist as it is today. Each individual either has to accept what the passage says, reject what it says, or take a smorgasbord approach to it taking this and leaving that but it says what it says. (Yes, all men can repent. The passage is talking about the unrepentant.)
The word of God itself is never changing. “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-25 NKJV) The Bible says what it says whether men will accept it or not. The words endure forever.
For the man who is willing to accept the word of God as a foundation for building a set of life values by which to live that man can be assured he will not be building on shifting sands. The word of God is written as if in stone even if what men do with it or decide about it is not. It is men who change along with society. The word of God does not change with cultural changes. It teaches today what it has always taught since first given. The scriptures say today to a twenty first century man the same thing they said to a third or thirteenth century man. It is what we choose to do with the scripture that has changed.
Men get into trouble with the word of God when they begin to doubt it and that is generally brought on by pressures that develop within them, sometimes unaware, from group or societal thinking or family pressures. What the Bible has to say about marriage, divorce, and remarriage, about fornication, about homosexuality, about honesty, about love, etc. has not changed. It still reads like it has for two thousand years now.
We are all constantly being pressured to read the Bible in a way that justifies what the Bible, as written, will not justify—justify the sins we do not want to be sins. If we succumb to that temptation we end up cutting and pasting scripture and making a Bible that suits us. We pick this scripture over that one, we make the Bible writers disagree with one another when properly understood they really don’t, we contort and distort until we get the Bible to read the way we want it to read. But it does not have to be that way.
Man can build a life (a value system) on the solid bedrock of the New Testament (the new covenant of Christ) if he is willing to which is the very thing that cannot be done when building upon cultural consensus. He can read the text and say “that is what it says” and so that is my foundation, the value I must incorporate into my life no matter what the culture of the time is.
Even if all of society justifies you in building upon the cultural consensus in the time in which you live the very next generation may vilify you and your generation for the values your generation has held. Seeking justification from society and the approval of the society in which you live means what—does it mean that a good German in the 1930’s and 40’s was a Nazi? A society’s values should not necessarily be your own.
One cannot condone those religious bodies who call themselves Christian but whose doctrines change with every shifting cultural wind, who seemingly are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth, who one day believe this until it becomes unpopular in the culture and then the next day proclaim they believe just the opposite but a Christian does not have to follow the crowd, even the religious crowd. He can follow what is in print, what will not deviate, nor leave him, nor forsake him but will be solid rock under his feet. He can build a life built on a solid foundation.
Your blueprint for life is not the so called history of Christianity, the doctrines of the church, or of church councils, but the always enduring, never changing New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.