The Search For Ethics And Integrity
THE SEARCH FOR ETHICS AND INTEGRITY
King David asked, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3).
In light of the recent revelations of the past 2 months’ re: sexual harassment in the workplace and inappropriate behavior involving radio, TV personalities and members of the U.S. Congress, people are beginning to ask, “How did we get here and where have ethics and integrity gone?”.
King David's question is as relevant today as when he asked it hundreds of years ago. According to a recent Gallop poll, 77% of Americans think we're in a spiritual and moral decline. Based on a recent survey, the number one fear among Christian parents (pastors and leaders), is that they will not be able to pass on their values to the next generation.
I believe that what we are experiencing today, is a result of the degrading of moral and ethical standards based upon the Word of God. The results will be a society whose ethical decisions will be based solely upon feelings and immediate gratification. I want to examine what God has to say regarding determining right from wrong and good as opposed to evil.
ETHICS ARE ULTIMATELY FROM GOD
When we talk about discerning right from wrong, we are dealing with the subject of ethics. Ethics is the study of the good, the study of right and wrong actions, and attitudes. Ethics govern our relationship towards God, they govern our relationships to others, and they govern our relationship to God’s creation itself.
GODS WORD TEACHES US ETHICS AND RIGHT CONDUCT
Prov. 1:2-5, 7 “To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, equity [or, doing what is right, just, and fair, NIV]; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion, wise men will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel. . . ""The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The foundational Ethic for all others is “The command to glorify God”.
QUESTION: How do we glorify God?
1 Cor. 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
God has given us His revelation and His Word to guide us in ethics and right conduct. When applied to our lives, it brings glory to His name. We glorify God when our relationship with Him is correct. When we are right with God, we will be right with one another.
Because God is Creator and sovereign Ruler of all creation, ethical and moral law is built into the very framework of the universe. Because man is made in the image of God, every action man takes either affirms or denies God’s moral government. The two moral directions described in Scripture are referred to as two paths; the old path which is the good way, and the other path, a broad path that leads to destruction. Jer.6:16, “Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.” Matt 7:13, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it."
The choice is clearly laid out for us. We need the discernment to be able to distinguish between right and wrong and between truth and deception. Once we do, we need to conform ourselves to the truth and to the right way.
We are commanded in Scripture to do exactly that: 1 Thess. 5:21-22, “Test all things; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil”.
God says in Proverbs 16:21, “Wise hearts are known for understanding what is right”.
From the Garden of Eden to the book of Revelation, the Bible lays out two, and only two ways: God’s way, and all others. According to the word of God, people are said to be saved or lost. There is the narrow way and the wide way.
There are those who are against God and those who are with him. There is life and death, truth and falsehood, good and bad, light and darkness, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, spiritual wisdom and the wisdom of the world.
“Christ said, He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by Him.” His is the only name under the sky by which one may be saved. We are either on the narrow way that leads to life, or we are on the broad way that leads to death and destruction. There is no other alternative.
WE CAN’T KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING GOD’S TRUTH
When ethics, integrity and virtue are separated from the character of God, sin prevails. Prov. 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; But he that keeps the law, happy is he.” When a society throws away the vision of God’s word, they throw away true wisdom and understanding. Prov. 3:5-6, “Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, And lean not upon thine own understanding: In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he will direct thy paths.” In our present humanistic culture, there is a new virtue which undermines and opposes everything Christians believe. God’s moral principles are grounded upon His absolute truth. What is absolute truth? It is true for all people, in all places, at all times. It is constant and unchanging. Truth is based outside of self. God and His Word are an unchanging (immutable) reference point for us. Truth is to be distinguished from personal standards/feelings.
There are two models of truth in the world today. God established absolute truth, (absolutism), and man determined truth, (relativism).
GOD IS BUILDING A KINGDOM OF PEOPLE WHOM HE HAS ENABLED TO CHOOSE RIGHT FROM WRONG
Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works.”
God’s plan for the recovery of fallen mankind involves the writing of His laws on the hearts of those saved by Jesus Christ. This not only means that our minds are tuned to God’s moral will, it also means that the desire to obey God’s law is engraved upon the hearts of the redeemed.
Right moral choices become a function of having been set apart by Jesus Christ. God-glorifying ethical living is the expression of a new nature that is empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. Our transformation by God’s truth and daily righteous living is a result of becoming what we really are in Christ; sanctified by truth.
The following words are from the Lord Jesus interceding for us. John 17:14-19, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As you have sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth."
Let’s strive to be the people of God that will hold to His Word and truth. Let’s endeavor to be examples of integrity who live by ethical standards based not upon convenience or popularity. God has given us all that is necessary in order to make an impact to those around us.
Sister Nancy and I pray that you and your family will have a blessed Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.
Pastor Richard Salazar