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Christian Ethics and Sin

QUESTION: Christian Ethics – The Inevitability of Sin


The Bible not only defines the moral order, it also announces that God will judge our character and conduct. Revelation 22:11–15 warns that at the judgment many will be left outside the city of God. This warning has staggering implications. “Christianity declares that God is more than the ground and goal of the moral order,” explains Henry. “Unequivocally it lays stress on the reality of God’s judgment of history. It affirms, that is, the stark fact of moral disorder and rebellion: ‘the whole world lieth in wickedness’ (1 John 5:19). By emphasizing the fact of sin and the shattered moral law of God, the dread significance of death, the wiles of Satan and the hosts of darkness, Christian ethics sheds light on the treacherous realities of making moral choices.”1

The reality is, of course, that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is a unique aspect of the Christian ethical system. “When a person makes up his own ethical code,” D. James Kennedy says, “he always makes up an ethical system which he thinks he has kept. In the law of God, we find a law which smashes our self-righteousness, eliminates all trust in our own goodness, and convinces us that we are sinners. The law of God leaves us with our hands over our mouths and our faces in the dust. We are humbled before God and convinced that we are guilty transgressors of his law.”2

Christian Ethics – Acknowledging Sin
Acknowledging our guilt before a Holy God is crucial if we are to understand the incredible sacrifice God made when He sent His Son to die for us. The Christian ethical code calls for perfection, and no one other than Christ has ever achieved it. Thus, the ethical code itself points us first to our own sinful nature and then to the realization that the only One who can save us is the Man who has not transgressed that code, Jesus Christ. The absolute moral code shows us our absolute dependence on Him. Put more simply, “The law is given to convince us that we fail to keep it.”3 When we realize this truth, we are driven for salvation to the One who has not failed.

We cannot, however, simply rely on Christ to save us and then continue in our sinful ways. Rather, once we understand the ultimate sacrifice God made for us, we cannot help but respond with a grateful desire to please God by adhering to His moral order. This does not mean that it becomes easy to do what is morally right—it simply means we desire to do God’s will. As Lewis says, “There is nowhere this side of heaven where one can safely lay the reins on the horse’s neck. It will never be lawful simply to ‘be ourselves’ until ‘ourselves’ have become sons of God.”4 Obeying the laws of Christian ethics requires a firm commitment and an unflagging zeal for doing what is right and good in the Lord’s sight. Paul says Christians must “[h]ate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9, NIV). In the chapters that follow, he defines what he means by “the good.”


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Henry, Christian Personal Ethics, 172.
2 D. James Kennedy, Why I Believe (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1980), 91.
3 Ibid., 90.
4 C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972), 286.

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We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

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