What is Right?
Should our culture really play a role in determining what is right and what is not?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor at Renovation Church.
Before I get started this morning, I wanted to give you a heads up that 2 weeks from today, we will be doing our annual Special Offering for our work in Haiti.
And honestly, we debated whether to do the special offering this year (even though we do just 1 a year), in light of all the amazing sacrificial giving that’s just gone on with our Amplify fund for land…
But we felt like it’s just the right thing to do.
You’ll get all the details on it next week…but I can tell you for now that we will be raising money to finish some work on our partner church of 3 years, “Ark of Noah by Faith…” including exterior painting.
And we are also going to be assisting an orphanage just down the street from our partner church that has a lot of needs.
They currently have 27 kids, ages 3-15…and the children have no beds.
The children are sleeping on concrete floors every night.
So, our team is going to build them 9 triple-decker bunkbeds
And also some benches/desks for their school.
So, there will be much more on that next week…but I want you to start talking and praying about how you can be a part of our annual work in Haiti…even if it’s just a little.
Let’s get started with the message for today.
Imagine with me this morning that you’re about to go skydiving for the first time.
You didn’t even sleep the night before because you were so nervous.
But you want to do it because…well…who doesn’t want to jump out of an airplane?
You get there, and they escort you right to the plane…which you think is a little odd.
You were expecting some sort of training session or something.
While you’re flying, your instructor says, “Hey, why don’t you throw on that parachute now.”
You say, “Isn’t there some right way to put it on?”
He says, “It doesn’t really matter. All ways are right. Who am I to tell you the right way to do it?”
You start thinking that you overpaid for this experience.
You say, “Okay, but what do I do once I jump out of the plane?”
He says, “It doesn’t matter. Just listen to your heart. You decide what’s right for you, and most of all…just have a memorable experience that’ll make you happy”
As much as our culture likes to think in the nice platitudes of “Listen to your heart and decide what’s right for you…”
I could stand up here for days on end and give you examples of why those are simply just that…trite platitudes.
They sound nice on Hallmark cards, but worked out to their logical conclusion…they don’t make any sense.
We’re going to talk that out today…and how, shockingly, you may find yourself thinking this way more than you realize.
We’re in the middle of a unique series called, “From the Beginning” where we are studying how Adam & Eve’s first sin (that changed humanity forever) relates to us today.
Specifically, how we seem to repeat their sin…by falling for almost identical lies.
What we’re trying to do in this series is pull back the curtain on sin, and show you what it really is.
Kind of like the Wizard of Oz
Our hope is that as you hear all 4 weeks of this series (and you can always catch up online or through the app), that you would go, “Wow, I was never seeing that before…but now that I understand that…I’m going to have so much more of a fighting chance”
PASSAGE / ADAM & EVE DETERMINE THEIR OWN RIGHT & WRONG
Let’s take a look at the key passages for our series:
Let’s first look at God’s original command to Adam.
(Genesis 2:16-17) – NIV
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
You can state this in a whole number of ways:
God gave Adam a command
God is trying to help Adam….to protect him & his future wife
God is telling Adam what is RIGHT and what is WRONG.
But…it’s to no avail.
(Genesis 3:1-6) – NIV
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
If you were here last week, or watched online, we said that one of the reasons that Adam and Eve fall into sin is because they doubted God was telling the truth.
And they fell into sin because they felt it would be better for them.
They thought that God’s ways must just be holding them down and taking them away from “true life!”
But there’s more to it.
The reasons for why we sin are many…and so many can be seen in this passage (which is why we’re doing a whole series on it)
Adam & Eve also sin because they determine that THEY get to decide what is right…and what is wrong.
See, where last week we looked at more of a feelings problem, this week we’re going to look at more of a philosophical problem.
Now, before you go, “Yeah, that’s not me. I don’t do philosophy”
Don’t be so sure.
You might not read philosophy, but everyone has one.
It’s your worldview.
It’s how you think life “ought to work”
How you think things “ought to be”
Everybody reads the news once in a while and says to a friend, “that’s just not right!”
Why? Because it goes against your philosophy on “what IS right”
Unless you’re secretly a robot, you have a philosophy on “what is right”
And here’s what I want you to see today:
In order to sin, you often have to mentally come up with a philosophy that says it’s okay…that it’s “right” for you to go forward with this thought or action in the first place.
See, sometimes we sin blatantly…
We say, “I totally know it’s wrong to be driving 85 on the highway right now, but I just don’t care”
But most of the time rather than blatantly do wrong, we change the rules in our mind first…so we’re not actually doing wrong.
We say, “I’m totally late for this super important meeting, so it’s okay that I’m going way over the speed limit because my situation is legitimate. My situation is seriously different.”
And we write our own rules…so that we aren’t actually doing wrong.
And firstly, notice that that’s what they did in the Garden.
Think about this: GOD HIMSELF…DIRECTLY…PERSON TO PERSON…told Adam, “Don’t do this. It’s WRONG.”
But they fall for the temptation…
They fall for the lies of the devil when he says:
“Did God really say…”
“You won’t die…”
“Your eyes will be opened!”
But how do you go from God Himself telling you it’s wrong…to eating the very fruit He told you would be so wrong to eat…that it would bring death upon you?
How does that happen?
Well, a lot of ways…but one of the ways is simply this: They change their philosophy on what is right and what is wrong first.
See, not only is the devil telling them that it’s going to be good for them to eat it, he’s telling them it’s going to be right!
He’s saying, “It’s not wrong! In fact, quite the opposite! Your eyes will be opened! You are blind now. There’s a totally different way to live!”
He doesn’t incite them to blatant sin.
He doesn’t say, “Sin against God! Turn your backs on Him!”
No, he doesn’t mention “sin”
The devil knows that he can get you for the long haul if he can get you to change your entire philosophy on morality…what is right.
The Bible gives a window into Eve’s mental churning before she starts chewing.
Look at verse 6 again:
(Genesis 3:6) – NIV
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
What is she thinking when it says, “She saw that it was:
“Good for food”
“Pleasing to the eye”
“Desirable for wisdom”
She was re-thinking right and wrong!
She’s thinking, I KNOW God says, “Don’t eat of it. It’s wrong.”
“BUT…it’s desirable…it’s good…I get wisdom…it can’t be WRONG, so I’m going to eat it!”
But what does she have to do first??!? Before she eats it?
She has to change her philosophy about what’s right and wrong.
TELLING YOURSELF IT’S NOT SIN
And we do the same thing all day long.
Most of us, have in fact, created elaborate moral philosophies on right & wrong without ever even being aware of it.
How often do you catch yourself going, “I know the Bible says this, but it’s honestly not that big of a deal…”
You’re re-writing right & wrong, so you don’t have to feel so bad about sin!
And why do we subconsciously do that in the first place?
Here’s why: Because God has created a moral compass in all of.
We have the law (right & wrong) written on our hearts (Romans 2) says
You can go around the world, and sure, cultures are different, but we basically have the same moral compass.
In the days of the explorers like Columbus, when they discovered new people groups, it wasn’t like they were discovering people groups that said, “Our elders think murder is fun, and we’re big fans of lying, child abuse, and adultery”
Sure…there are outliers…and groups that had fallen into moral decay.
But the basic sense of morality has been in the human heart from the beginning.
And if you’ve numbed it out, and you don’t feel it much anymore…I bet you probably felt it as a child.
But…here’s what happens…we don’t like the feeling of conviction.
It doesn’t feel good to be wrong.
So one of the easiest things to do is to simply adjust our thinking... adjust our philosophy on what’s right and wrong.
So the NEXT time we do it…
We don’t have to feel guilty…we can just say, “Nah, that’s not wrong”
And we can feel like we’re finally free, but we’ve never been more in bondage to sin.
And even for the Christian…this type of thinking is EVERYWHERE.
Start asking yourself, “Where am I doing this?”
Even though one of the CORE basic beliefs of Christianity is “The Bible is God’s Word”…that ALL of it is true….
As Christians, we believe that God’s commands on how we should live, not only benefit us, but that they are RIGHT…
YET…even though that’s a core belief of Christianity…so much of our sin is rooted in the very fact that we say, “Yeah…but that’s not really right.”
“The Bible’s not really right here”
The Bible, for your benefit (because remember God is good), says a lot about sex, about marriage, about divorce, about how we spend our money, our time, on parenting, on you name it…
But……our culture often speaks from a completely opposite perspective
And sometimes your heart is tempted to agree with the culture...
And the temptation is to say, “Yeah, I’ve heard that this is what the Bible says I should do:...but:
“My situation is different…
“I’m not hurting anyone”
“It’s not really that big of a deal”
“I just don’t feel like anyone lives that way anymore”
And in every case, what are we doing?
We’re adjusting our philosophy on what’s right and wrong.
So therefore, when we sin…we don’t feel convicted.
I guarantee you that’s what Adam and Eve did.
They’ve already adjusted their thinking.
“What does that God guy know?”
“I’ve never seen a more pleasing looking fruit in my life!”
“Plus, I’m going to get wise!”
“How could this possibly be bad for me?!?”
“You know what?! I think I should decide what’s right here.”
MORAL RELATIVISM IS NONSENSE
It sounds good.
But carried to its logical conclusion…it’s completely illogical.
It’s like skydiving with an instructor who thinks you should just listen to your heart instead of figuring out the right way to open a parachute.
This is what philosophers and theologians call “Moral Relativism”
It’s the idea that right and wrong is not determined by one source (God for example), but right & wrong is determined by the individual…or the culture one resides in.
That YOU get to determine the right way to live your life
And it’s EVERYWHERE in our culture.
I could turn on the TV and find this kind of thinking in our culture…in 45 seconds
Someone’s going to say something like, “No one can tell you how to live your life”
Again, sounds wonderful!
Except, what about those terrorists who shot all those people in Paris this week?
If you’re on the police force there, and you see them come in with guns ablazing, are you really going to say, “Who am I to tell them how to live their life?”
I could go to almost any university in the country, in about 45 seconds, I could hear, “Who are we to impose our beliefs on another culture? If that’s what they believe, it’s arrogant, it’s presumptuous, and it’s downright childish for us to tell another culture that we have a greater truth.”
Again, sounds good. Even smart at first.
Except, if culture just gets to determine your right and wrong (I’m not talking language & food here, I’m talking morality), what would you have done about the Nazi’s?
They were after all, carrying out their cultural belief.
They weren’t killing for sport. They had a cultural belief that they were the superior race and were to rid the world of the Jews and more.
And HOW MANY people bought into that lie? Millions of Germans in particular.
Millions of people adjusted their philosophy of right & wrong, and said, “Now I believe that it IS RIGHT to rid the world of the Jews.
And do you want to know the undercurrent of why so many of us, as Americans, change our beliefs on right & wrong, to deviate from what the Bible says???
(And I’m not just talking about huge issues…Mostly about little daily things in your life. )
Most of it is cultural pressure.
You feel pressured to change from how you know the Bible says you should live because:
“This is what the culture says about dating now…”
“This is what the culture says about money…” etc.
And we decide to go against God’s Word (just like Adam & Eve) because well, every one else is saying that it’s right.
Just like Eve… “That serpent said it was okay! He doesn’t think it’s a big deal!”
And aren’t’ we still doing the same thing?
We are going against the very Words of the Maker of Humanity…
The one who created us…our hearts…our relational sensibilities…our minds…in the first place.
We go against God…and we change what’s right & wrong…because…well…I should get to determine what’s right…and everyone else is doing it
And if that doesn’t sound silly enough in itself for you…there are even greater ironies.
Like, the fact that the very idea that our culture tells us that there is no absolute right & wrongs, is ironically, an absolute statement.
Or think of it this way…any good student of history or anthropology would probably tell you that letting cultural pressure pressure you to determine your right & wrong (instead of God’s Word) is a silly and short-sighted idea.
There is no perfect culture and never will be.
Christians mess this up a lot.
They say things like, “What we need to do is to go back to traditional values. Let’s go back to the way things were in our culture when this nation was founded.”
Yeah, like we when enslaved millions of people, didn’t allow women to vote, and were basically carrying out Genocide on the Native Americans.
Those were the good ol’ days.
For many of us, the only reason we feel compelled to adjust our right and wrong to what the culture says, is because we mistakenly believe that we now have a better understanding of right & wrong than we did 100 years ago
Which again, is IRONIC…because the culture just told you, “There is no one right culture; they are all equally true…but you better agree with us that we under morality better than cultures of the past!”
It’s CRAZY talk!!
It happens because the culture at large can’t escape that moral-compass thing, so they can’t help themselves from making statements about right & wrong, despite the endless rhetoric about “You can’t tell me how to live”
But because they can’t escape their moral compass, our American culture, practically, is completely and utterly inconsistent on this belief.
You can try this out.
Go on social media…and make a racist statement.
See if the culture is consistent with their belief that “you can live your life anyway you want to.”
If you get zero comments, than we conclude that they’re practically consistent.
And if the culture says that indeed it IS wrong to be racist, what are they basing that on?
I hope not! Because the culture is going to change.
Many of the people of the 1800’s made amazing strides in ending slavery and race inequalities, and yet in the 1900’s we descended back into Jim Crowe Laws, and more genocides occurred around the world than ever before.
See, culture, never gives you a consistent leg to stand on for right and wrong, and I think you KNOW this!
Today, we would think it ridiculous if we read that someone from the 1700’s said, “Our culture of 1750 has all the truth on right and wrong!”
You’d roll your eyes in embarrassment! What about slavery? What about human rights?
Well, what do you think someone is going to say about us in the year 2,300 if they read, “We as Americans in 2015, have all the truth on culture. We know how you should live.” ?
And really, in so many ways, we’ve regressed morally!
We could also ask, “What would the people of year 1200 say about us?”
See with culture…the moral ground is always moving.
And therefore to base your “right & wrong” on what the majority of your culture thinks at the time…is an incredibly shortsighted move.
SCRIPTURAL TRUTH IS WHAT YOU WERE MADE FOR
And that’s why we go back (way back) to the Rock (the unmoving Rock) that is God…that is the Bible.
We believe racism, for example, is sin…that’s egregiously wrong
Not because that’s what my professor said…or that’s what my friends on facebook said… no…because that’s what God says…and that’s what he’s always said:
(Galatians 3:28) – NIV
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
You are the same in God. All of God’s children…just the same.
Equally worthy of love, worth, and respect!
And this all comes back to…when you’re thinking about changing your philosophy on what is right…that the only logical place for right and wrong…has always been God’s Word.
God does not change.
(Hebrews 13:8) – NIV
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
So you’ve got to know that the allure of sin is going to lie to you.
It’s going to say, “This Bible stuff is just old…so out of date.”
“It’s fine if you get drunk, sleep around, and do whatever feels good. No one else in the culture thinks it’s that big of deal anymore anyway. That was your parent’s generation!”
But you can’t trust that.
When you hear that lie...don’t trust it.
The morality of a culture is just a moving lie that’s never going to stop moving.
Think of it this way:
Who is it that truly has your interests in mind?
The culture? Your social network?
Or the one who created you? The very one who knit you in your mother’s womb?
Who would design a way that’s best for you to live?
Your creator. Your Father. God.
So trust in God’s ways.
The Bible is His Word to you. His letter to you.
And I want to challenge you TRUST in his Word above all else to guide your decisions.
The mature believer is the one that never makes exceptions to God’s Word.
The mature believer is the one that can trust in God’s Word even it flies directly in the face of the culture.
The mature believer let’s God be their skydiving instructor.
He’s the one we trust in even if our heart and everyone else is going in a different direction.
We must ruthlessly realize the ridiculous nature of sin.
The moment that we say, “Nah…I know the Bible says this, but it’s not right.”
Is the moment we call God a liar.
But He is far from a liar.
He is the only constant, unchangeable truth in a world that never stops changing.
And He didn’t just give us the truth…He gave us His son.
So that…even though we try and go our own way like Adam & Eve…even though we sin…he still loves us.
Unlike the culture, he doesn’t turn his back on us…
He sends his very own son to die in our place…for our sins…no matter what we’ve done
And if we put our faith in Him (believe that He died for us), He’ll forgive everything we’ve ever done.
God is truth. God is love.
That’s who we should follow.
That’s who we should trust.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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