by Matt Slick
Jesus drew lines in the moral landscape of Israel. He opposed the religious hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees and set a proper distinction between what is holy and what is hypocrisy (Matt. 23). For this, he was killed. But, the powerful testimony he left before his death and after his resurrection is recorded in the Bible. His words and life are a beacon of light to all who want truth and desire to know the difference between right and wrong. With Jesus, there were absolutes. With Jesus, there really is such a thing as truth and error, right and wrong, eternal life and eternal death.
However, in today's world, relativism, which is the bedfellow of the secular, is becoming the temptress of the sacred. In the world of the secular, people are taught to avoid passing judgment, whether it be in regard to other peoples' beliefs, or lifestyle preferences, sexual orientation, moral judgments, faithfulness, and personal ethics. The secularists want tolerance shown to their ungodly lifestyles. So, they consider sin to be an anachronistic and meaningless concept. The world does not want the Christian to shine a holy light on its sin. Instead, the world wants to have its sin without condemnation, without guilt, and without consequence. The world offers a philosophy of "It is right if it is right for you," and "What is wrong for you is not necessarily wrong for anyone else." In the secular realm of relativism, there are no absolutes. There are no paradoxes. There are no truth statements except to say that all views are acceptable -- except the biblical one. In Judges 17:6 it says, "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes." When there is no King, when there is no God, then truth becomes a disposable opinion. The secularists of today, like the kingless people of ancient Israel who have no direction, want to do what is right in their own eyes.
It doesn't take long for any serious Bible student to recognize the problems of relativism aren't only in the secular realm. It is in the Christian church as well. We see so-called Christian denominations and churches that approve of homosexuality, or couples living together, or who preach from how-to books and not the Bible, who water down the gospel, and teach a weak doctrine of God, sin, Christ, and salvation. Unfortunately, these kinds of churches are in bed with their secular mistresses and are being seduced into further and further spiritual adulteries. Their eyes are not on God's word, but on relativism. That is why the lines that Jesus drew so sharply in the Gospels which separate the sacred from the secular are becoming more and more blurred by the relativism of today as it seeps into the Christian church.
The blunt truth is, however, that there is an absolute right and wrong. We find it in the Bible which says that homosexuality is a sin. It is not an "alternate lifestyle." It is a rebellious act of people who oppose the God-ordained institution of marriage between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:18-25). The Bible says that living together is a sin. It is wrong, since it is the participation of the sexual union outside of the covenant establishment of marriage. The Bible teaches us about husbands and wives, not about "significant others." The Bible teaches us to NOT bow to social norms if they contradict God's word. Therefore, it is always wrong to lie, always wrong to commit adultery, always wrong to steal, always wrong to bear false witness, etc. It is wrong because God says it is wrong, because what is right is based upon God's holy character.
Furthermore, doctrine is important and there can be no compromise on the truth of what God has revealed. There is only one God in all existence who has always been God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8; Psalm 90:2). God is a trinity (three persons in the Godhead - Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Cor. 13:14). Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:1,14). Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). If you do not believe and trust in Christ alone for salvation, then you are damned to eternal hell (John 3:17-18; Matt. 25:46). These are only some of the many truths of the Bible that are under attack from the world, from the cults, and other false religions. As unpopular as they may be, they are still true.
We Christians are to sharpen the lines between truth and error. But, to do this we must first know what the truth is. We must know what the Bible actually says about right and wrong, about doctrine, about God, about ourselves, about judgment, and about Jesus. And then, we must be willing to say, "That is sin" when we see sin. We must be willing to stand up for righteousness, even if it costs us. Far too many Christians compromise and let the world take their truth and gospel in exchange for comfort and safety. The manifestation of this compromise is found in churches with social agendas instead of biblical mandates, who do not condemn sin, but practice it and who seek ways to appease the world instead of God.
Let me say it again: The world wants to blur the lines that separate the absolutes of morality and truth from its lies and compromise. The world wants Christian morality and absolutes removed. It wants moral and truth grey areas to overshadow biblical truth. By contrast, however, the Christian church is supposed to sharpen those lines by preaching, teaching, and standing up for the absolute truths of God's word.
But, should we be a people that stand united in truth with fists raised in stern defiance against the world's relativism and moral compromise? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that we are always to stand up for what is right. No, in that if standing up for what is right is not done in love, then our message of truth cannot be heard. Truth without love is hypocrisy. Love without truth is is a lie. Both truth and love must be presented in harmony. The Christian church should be true and it should also be beautiful. In other words, it should teach what is right and it should LIVE what is right. 1 Tim. 1:5 says, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
In your life, are you living both the truth and the love that Jesus presented to us? Are you proclaiming truth at your job? Are you teaching it at home? Are you standing for truth in society? Are you proclaiming truth in love? Are you teaching truth by a loving example? Are you living the truth?
Now, lest I risk teaching moralism and further the degradation of truth in the world, I must make it clear that both truth and love are based on the cross of Christ. At the cross we see the perfection of truth and love realized together on the hard lines of that bloodied tree. It is true that Jesus died and rose again. It is true that his love for us bought us our salvation. It is true that the cross is the only hope for mankind. It is true that people need to die to themselves. It is true that love is sacrificial and that it can cost us our lives. It is true that there is such a thing as sin and it is true that we can point out what is right and wrong in the world because Jesus lived what was right and wrong, died, and rose from the dead to prove that what he said was true.
The church that has lost its truth is a false church. The church that has lost its love is a godless church. The church that has lost Jesus is a church of the devil. The more the lines are blurred between the sacred and the secular, the more we move towards apostasy. May it never be! We must firmly trace out the lines already drawn and lovingly point out that there is a right and a wrong. We point this out by pointing to Jesus. But pointing this out must be preceded by living the truth, not in simply proclaiming it.
We need to make sure that the lines between the sacred and the secular do not become blurred. We must make sure that they are sharp. We must proclaim Christ and Him crucified and that He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. Without Him, there is no truth.