To say times are changing is really an understatement. The world we live in is changing at a mind-boggling rate. Take technology as an example. The computer I used to type this article, though the latest and greatest when I bought it a few months ago, will be considered a dinosaur in a matter of months when the next generation of computer chips become available. This is change for the better of course; who would argue that a slow computer is better?
Some of the change I see in our world, however, is not for the better. I’m thinking of the social changes in our country. Many have been complaining about the breakdown in the moral fabric of our society. Moral standards are eroding. We are told that there should be no standards, that standards or absolutes are old fashioned and too restrictive, that they inhibit the evolution of our culture. After all, this is the 90’s. As an American, this popular thinking gives me serious concern about the future of our great country. But as a Christian, it gives me even greater concern about the future of individuals being affected by this moral drift.
Most of us look at our neighbors and coworkers as a moral barometer. We stay within the bounds of what is socially acceptable or "politically correct," as we so often hear. You can see the danger in this if you think about it for long. With no absolute standard as a reference, we can justify any lifestyle.
What does God have to say about moral standards and absolutes? Are there any? I think most of us are aware that the Bible is filled with God’s Standards—what He defines as good and what He defines as sin. The Ten Commandments are the best known examples. They are a brief overview of what the Bible calls the Law. We are only fooling ourselves if we think God’s definition of sin is changing along with our society’s definition. Human standards change with changing times, but God’s standards are unchanging. "I the Lord do not change" (Malachi 3:6). If I am evaluating my life by current but false standards, where does that leave me in relation to God?
When we read the Bible, we find out that not only does God have unchanging standards, but also that we don’t measure up to them. The following Scripture may shock you: "The Lord looks down from Heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:2,3). After quoting this Psalm, the apostle Paul concludes with the following statement: "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His [God’s] sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin" (Romans 3:20). Clearly what God is telling us is that His Law was not given to show us how to become righteous, but rather to provide a standard by which we can measure ourselves. When we measure ourselves by God’s standard we find ourselves described by the statements we just looked at from Psalm 14.
Are we without hope? Are we doomed to be judged for our sin? The answer is yes—if we ignore God’s view of us and continue as we are. But listen to what Paul continues to say: "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood" (Romans 3:21-25). Our situation is not hopeless! God provided a way for us to be pronounced righteous, a righteousness not of our own doing, but from God. Is there anything of greater value in this life than a pronouncement from God that we are righteous? Despite our best efforts, we cannot live up to the standards of a holy God because of our propensity to sin. We shouldn’t look at a changing society if we want an accurate assessment of how God views us. We must look to God’s Word for a correct understanding of our condition.
The righteousness available from God is a gift to be received by faith. Jesus Christ the Son of God died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice, a sacrifice to put away sin. The Bible says that as a result of what Christ has done, we can be justified (made righteous). Are you interested? I would like to conclude with a well known verse: "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).