Christian ethics is no less than the human expression, made possible through the Holy Spirit, of the Divine character. The foundation of our obedience to the will of God is the atoning death of Christ at Calvary. The only proper and grateful response to what He has done for us is dedicating our lives to that which brings Him glory: this is our highest ethic.
A person outside of God’s saving grace has some inkling of God’s righteous justice. Or rather something more than an inkling, as Paul lays out in the very beginning of his letter to the Romans: that person knows, and rejects the truth he knows for the lies his or her sinful heart prefers. This is a harsh judgment to make, but a critical, Biblical one: and we must make it upon our own hearts first and foremost. We all begin under a just sentence of condemnation for our rebellion. In our flesh, we do not want to obey. We don’t even want to acknowledge the existence of a law by which we can be judged disobedient.
But in His grace! A glorious place to reside, and from this glory comes ethical order. Our souls having been quickened by the Spirit, having responded to the Gospel of grace with joyful, repentant sorrow, are ready for something more: the work of building Christ’s kingdom, in His name, and upon His earth. The truth of justice has devastated our souls, and truth of grace has built them back up again in His image. Truth – we elate! – is knowable. Both God’s justice in judgment and gracious salvation of sinners express His character; and having been justified, in the process of being sanctified, we begin to glimpse the beauty of His law as David did. To know God is to know truth. To love God is to love truth.
We live in an age where, without a trace of irony, the only truth we seem to embrace is that there is no truth. In our culture we base ethics upon desire; that which the people want, the people should have. This has the ultimate effect of destroying us. It is shifting sand, and trying to build an ordered society upon a foundation readily susceptible to the tides of human opinion leads to moments of success followed by lifetimes of regret.
But building a well-ordered society that truly meets human need is possible: and more than possible, inevitable. The ultimate triumph of good over evil is coming. And we, my Christian brothers and sisters, have been called to prepare the earth. For all will bend the knee to Him. His sovereignty is universal and will be recognized as such by all men, everywhere. In justice or in grace, all will give Him glory.
What is your role in building His kingdom?