Monday, October 17, 2016
With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:17-29(NLT)
The Challenge to Live Differently
The Christian church is a called-out body. Paul urges us to choose to live with moral absolutes, as opposed to the absence of morality he sees in the world. Today the problem is a relative morality. But we are to live differently than the world. That means the bedrock conviction of moral absolutes.
William Barclay wrote about the difference Paul described:
In the heathen world, Paul saw three terrible things. He saw men's hearts so petrified that they were not even aware that they were sinning; he saw men so dominated by sin that shame was lost and decency forgotten; he saw men so much at the mercy of their desires that they did not care whose life they injured and whose innocence they destroyed so long as these desires were satisfied.
What Paul described was petrified hearts. I have seen wood retrieved from the Petrified Forest; trees that have long ago given up living. The tree dies on the inside first, and then petrifies rock-hard over time. You never know of the deadness, because the outside still looks like a live tree. However, they are only images of what used to be. Without moral absolutes we run the risk of becoming dead from the inside out.
What does it mean to have a moral absolute? Consider the survey taken in the U.S. several decades ago. The question asked American men and women was: How much money would it take for you to agree to sleep with a stranger? For men, the average price was $10; for women, $10,000. Some said no, but when the price got to a million dollars almost everyone said: Yes, I would sleep with a stranger. The human problem was unmasked by the question. The conclusion is the old punch line, we already know what you are; we're just haggling about price.
Are you for sale at any price? Or are you committed to the moral absolute that you are bought with God's price, and not for sale to the things of this world? That’s what a Christian value is all about! Christians are committed to live differently. Moral absolutes mean that we will make changes when our actions violate God's Word.
Paul said: Put off the old self – put on the new. This is not faking it until you make it theology. This is a conscious decision to let Christ determine how you will act, in spite of the consequences, or the conditions, or the relative values of the world.
Living differently means a willingness to change. Moral absolutes will force you to make changes. You live differently as a Christian!
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