Since I wrote about the problem of human good last week, I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit. I love the way God combines events from one’s life, information from class, words spoken by friends and enemies, things heard on the radio or TV, songs and even words from classes taught decades ago… to encourage one to grapple with a concept.
That’s what He’s been doing lately with this concept for me, and when I asked Him what He wanted me to write about for today’s post, it seemed He said to write about what I’ve been grappling with. I protested that whatever I wrote wouldn’t be finished or clear, because my thinking on it isn’t yet clear. Which of course, He knows. But in writing about it here, I can set down the ideas to see how they fit together and where they might lead.
The first thing to set down is that human good may look like the Christian way of life to many, but it is not. The Christian life is a supernatural way of life. If the ubeliever can do something, my pastor says, than that thing is not the Christian way of life. It may be part of the Christian life, but it is not the core of it.
Morality, for example, is something the unbeliever can do. I know, because I was a very moral unbeliever. I didn’t lie, cheat, steal, fornicate, do drugs, murder…smoke, drink, defy authority (at least not openly), rack up debts I could never pay… I worked hard, tried to be fair and honest, didn’t litter, was kind to animals… I know other unbelievers who are also moral.
The idea that the Ten Commandments constitute the Christian Way of Life is a teaching that has been around for some time and believed by many to be a manifestation of what it means to be a Christian. (Worse, some even believe that keeping them is the way of salvaton) But the Ten Commandments were given as part of the Law to the nation of Israel as a means of stabilizing society. They were for everyone when they were given — believer and unbeliever — and remain so to this day.
As Church age believers — Christians– we are no longer under the Law spiritually, but we are still required to observe God’s laws of divine establishment and to respect the four institutions of free will, marriage, family and nationalism that God has set up for all people. As those institutions are attacked today, the stability of our nation suffers, so it’s not like they don’t matter. Nevertheless, observing those divinely appointed laws is not the Christian way of life. Part of it, but not it.
As I said, the Christian life is a supernatural way of life. The naturally minded man can’t even understand it, let alone execute it. The Bible says we must worship God in Spirit and in truth, that God gives us the power to live the life He wants us to live and that power resides not in our flesh — not in our self-discipline or our loving personalities or our earnest desire to serve — but in His word as it permeates and infuses our thinking and in the Spirit when He controls our souls.
If one is not filled with the Spirit one can be moral all day and it’s nothing. It’s human good — nothing but wood, hay and straw. The Pharisees who crucified Jesus were moral, religious, upstanding people. Yet most of them were unbelievers.
So morality is not the Christian way of life. The Christian way of life goes way beyond morality…