Does God do what is right, or is it right because God does it?
Many think God is subservient or subject to external standards – that He does what is right because there is a higher moral code that even He obeys.
This denies God’s sovereignty, and as a result many today seek to hold Him to the standard of their own sense of right and wrong.
Scripture says otherwise. What is right and what is wrong is defined by His very nature – “Be holy for I am holy”.
For the theologians among us, ethics (what is right and wrong) and epistemology (what is true) proceed from ontology (God’s very being or nature), and not ontology from ethics and epistemology.
When we project our notions of love, mercy, grace, justice, right and wrong – and even truth – on the Lord, we are engaged in idolatry. We are setting our own sensibilities up against God and His authoritative self revelation of scripture.
I seek Christ, and Christ alone, as He has revealed and interpreted Himself to us in scripture – both Old and New Testament. As such, I refuse to impose on Him my own sensibilities, but rather allow my sensibilities to conform to His nature as revealed in His Word – which then becomes alive in me through the Holy Spirit.
I set nothing up against Him and His authoritative, external self revelation – not even my own subjective perceptions of Him, because my subjective perceptions will always be colored by my own sensibilities.
I submit to all of Christ – even the stuff that makes me queasy like ultimate judgment, punishment and moral accountability – rather than deny that those also are part of His nature as revealed in scripture.
Yesterday was Reformation Day, which is the anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses that challenged the prevailing idolatrous sensibilities of his day – and the resulting doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic church.
I like what he said when told to recant:
My conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Therefore, I cannot and will not recant. Here I stand, I can do no other.
Luther recognized the role of conscience – our own internal sense of right and wrong. But for Him, it must be “captive to the Word of God.” Only then do we have the courage and authority to stand against the pressure to conform to the dictates and sensibilities of prevailing religious and cultural idolatries.
Like Luther, we must let our conscience be captive to the Word of God as we proclaim Christ in the midst of the intrenched idolatries of our day.
Today, the prevailing religious and cultural idolatries we face are postmodern notions of love, mercy, grace, justice, right and wrong – and even truth – which many now seek to impose on the Lord and His Word.
Their doctrines and practices are more motivated by postmodern notions inherited from the prevailing sensibilities of our age, than by Christ’s true nature and His authoritative self-revelation in scripture.
That may shock you, because you were thinking the big problem today was institutional religion. But that’s so yesterday!
The challenge we now face are those – often in reaction to the problems of institutional religion – who want to conform Christ and His Word (often by denying it’s even His Word) to their postmodern sensibilities. As they’ve foisted their unbiblical postmodern notions on the Body of Christ and dissed those who do not likewise conform, they have become every bit as legalistic – and dangerous – as the institutional church.
As for me? Here I stand – I can do no other – secure and confident in Christ and the authority of His Word as I go and proclaim Him, in all His authentic fulness, to a waiting world.
There we find life…
There we find the dynamic authority that’s ours in Christ…
There we see transform in our lives, the lives of others, and in our culture as His Kingdom truly advances.