I never thought I'd see the day when America’s moral compass would so totally lose its orientation. But it has happened. Our moral compass seems no longer to have a “true north.” The needle spins crazily, looking for a direction on which to settle, a direction that can lead a nation on a path of integrity and morality.
Given these realities, it should come as no surprise that in January 2011 Gallup reported that only 30 percent of Americans expressed satisfaction with the current moral and ethical climate in the United States, a new low. What's even more astounding, 76 percent of Americans say the moral condition of America is getting worse. I vote with the majority in both cases.
But, Christian morality has a solid foundation. God’s moral and ethical laws were given to Moses in ten parts, the Ten Commandments. Then, Jesus Christ delivered a kingdom commentary on God’s law in the Sermon on the Mount to highlight—not negate—their spiritual dimension. The spirit of the law added to the letter of the law.
The requirements of the Ten Commandments are all repeated for application to the church; all of them repeated in the New Testament except the injunction to keep the Sabbath day holy.
The most concise summary of God’s laws of morality for those who claim to follow Jesus Christ was given by Jesus Christ Himself. Here's what He wrote,
“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Love God (the first four commandments) and love your neighbor (the remaining six) are the two simplest and most sublime statements of morality ever uttered. Basically, what Jesus is saying is that no person who loves God with heart, soul, and mind, and loves his neighbor as himself, will ever be accused of bending or breaking God’s moral laws.
The law is entirely for our benefit. These laws are given not to prevent pleasure, but to increase pleasure. When we read the New Testament, we find that conforming to God’s law in our hearts allows us to experience in all activities of life the specific kind of pleasure and satisfaction that God intended us to find in that particular activity.
When we become a Christian and the Spirit of God indwells us, the laws of God—His standards of morality—move from being an external to an internal reality. God’s law becomes part of our hearts; it becomes part of our mind. “When the law of God is written on our hearts, our duty becomes our delight” (Matthew Henry). The law changes from being a burden that keeps us from pleasure to a guide that leads us to a wholly new kind of pleasure—the pleasure of walking in God’s best for our lives. Jesus said it this way: “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
Christians follow the law because we love God, knowing that His ways are always best for us, and they are given to us not to diminish our joy, but to increase our joy.
There may be an action or a choice that breaks none of God’s laws, yet it is still not helpful or edifying. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).
The Christian gospel moves us all the way up to a higher plane in life. No longer are we just looking out for ourselves and our own well-being, but we begin to look out for the well-being of others. And if something is “lawful” on the basis of the letter of the law, and yet it has the potential to hurt somebody else or tarnish our testimony for Christ, then it becomes unlawful for us.
As we keep God's law and manifest His character, we preserve the character of His creation, we prevent the deterioration and degeneration of human society, we add a unique flavor to it, and, hopefully, create a thirst for God in those lives that we touch.
Yes, we live in a morally corrupt and decaying culture. But what an opportunity for us to stand strong and be God's people! We can make a difference if we would just be willing to live differently—differently according to the principles of the Word of God.
And let me just suggest to you that if you do not know Jesus Christ, your problem isn't that you don't try to do good things; your problem is you don't have the right heart. You have to have the heart of God to live God’s way, and God will give you His heart if you will put your trust in Him. And you can do that today.
Every day I get up with this sense of confidence that God is in me and through His power, through His spirit, through the indwelling Christ, I can live this life which humanly is impossible, humanly is beyond ability, but through the supernatural power of the Lord Jesus Christ is certainly possible. Not only is it possible, it is what God expects of us who belong to Him.