GOD’S MEASURING STICK
This blog is based on the outline of a sermon preached by Jimmy Chrisman at Liberty Avenue Baptist Church, Berea, KY, on May 17, 1981; and edited on January 9, 2021 for this blog by J. David Chrisman (with the intent of retaining his original style and structure).
2Timothy 3:14-17: But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction [training, discipline] in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
There are so many people today who do not seem to know right from wrong. They seem to think it is okay to live immorally; and this has become so prevalent that society seems to even celebrate immoral behavior and lifestyles.
There seems to be much confusion in the minds of both adults and youth as to what is RIGHT and what is WRONG. The result is an increasingly secular and Godless society that is racing toward a revolution of immorality.
I believe that we adults are more to blame for the wave of immorality among our youth than our young people. We have not sounded the trumpet against wrong. We have not set an example in moral standards that is in keeping with the Word of God. The result is that our young people do not know what is RIGHT or WRONG.
It is my goal in this message to attempt to show youth and adults alike how they can always KNOW what is right and what is wrong about any given matter.
RIGHT FROM WRONG NEVER CHANGES
First, right and wrong have not changed. Our attitudes may have changed, but right and wrong have not changed. Right comes from God. Wrong comes from Satan. What was once wrong is still wrong today and what was once right is still right today. Changing attitudes on the part of mere mortals cannot change the moral standards of the eternal and holy God.
Second, it always pays to do right and it never pays to do wrong. Right brings happiness and wrong brings misery, suffering, death, and Hell. If you will listen and are earnestly seeking to do what is right in your life, you can find happiness by following these guidelines for your life.
THERE ARE SOME THINGS BY WHICH WE CANNOT KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG
First, we cannot know right from wrong by the labels that society, nor our churches, nor even some claiming to be ministers (but who are in their speech and actions false ministers) put on right and wrong. You could depend on a true Bible-believing and Bible-practicing church and a true Bible-believing, Bible-practicing minister for your rights and wrong labels; but, regretfully, there are many today who instead prefer to listen to what their “itching ears” want to hear. These seek out ministers who compromise the Bible’s clear teachings on what is right and wrong. They instead advocate a stance of “if it feels right for you, then do it” or “seek out your own truth for that is God’s will for your life.” Likewise, society does not condemn many sins that are condemned by the Word of God. We cannot depend on society, liberal churches, liberal ministers, or our local community for our labels of right and wrong.
Second, we cannot know right from wrong by custom. The customs in our society regarding moral matters change from time to time, from community to community, and even from nation to nation. You cannot determine your moral standards by what the custom is in your community, your nation, or even in your religion.
Third, we cannot know right from wrong by what the crowd does. Many young people have been led astray by following the crowd. The natural weakness of the average young person is to want to do what the crowd does. If other young people around them wear a certain type of clothing, then they seem to think that the “in-thing” to do is to dress the same way. Isaiah 53:6 tells us “all we like sheep have gone astray.” We are people who imitate each other; but in most instances, the crowd is not doing what is right.
We also cannot know right from wrong by our conscience.
Many people excuse their wrong-doing by saying, “My conscience is clear.” They believe that their conscience is the infallible guide to what is right and what is wrong. This is positively false. The conscience is a faculty that functions according to its education, its training, and its background. I read an article recently on a tribe in the Congo where chosen women toss their babies to the crocodiles to, as they see it, appease the wrath of the gods. These women believe what they’re doing is right and their conscience agrees; but the murdering of one’s child in this way is horrifying to those who are grounded in Scripture.
The biggest stumbling block to establishing the right moral standards as taught by God’s Word is the false educating of the conscience. When those in authority teach “feel-good” or “personal truth” philosophy, they train the conscience of their hearers to accept immoral behaviors and lifestyles as “good” when God’s Word clearly declares them as “evil.”
If you have been born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, and if you are a student of the Word of God, then you might believe that your conscience has been influenced by this and is more reliable as a source of moral guidance. But customs, tradition, education, and even certain attitudes can interfere with right thinking when it comes to matters of Godly morality.
WAYS TO KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG
Objectify it. Most of us see very poorly when we look at ourselves, but we think we see more clearly when we look at the faults of others. We cannot see our own faults, but we are quick to point out the faults in others. If you want to know what a given moral matter looks like when you do it, try to see it in someone else. For example, imagine others such as your minister, your mother, your father, your favorite teacher, or someone else you consider a moral person doing the thing you question as being right or wrong. If you feel it would be wrong for them, then it is wrong for you. Ask yourself, “What would I think about this person after learning (s)he had done this? Would I want others to think the same of me?”
Universalize it. There is no double standard in the Word of God. What is right for one is right for another and what is wrong for one is wrong for another. There is no “relative truth” when it comes to the Word of God. His moral standards are for all and apply to all equally and without regard to station, culture, background, race, or any other characteristic.
Spiritualize it. Ask yourself honestly, “What effect does this conduct have on me? Am I a better person for doing it? Do I feel good about praying or praising God after doing it? Would Jesus do this?” The last question beckons to the fact that most of us regard Jesus as the personification of rightness. We cannot imagine (and rightly so) Him doing anything wrong. When you are tempted to do wrong and visit the question “Would Jesus do this?” If you cannot conceive of Him doing the questionable thing you are thinking of doing, you can be certain it is not the right thing to do.
You can also ask yourself, “What does the Bible say about this?” The Bible covers every conceivable moral practice. And even in instances where a specific sin may not be addressed specifically, God’s Word provides consistent principles for weighing these types of sins.
Ps 119:9-11: How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
You cannot stop living with habitual sins in your own power. You cannot beat the flesh and you cannot beat the Devil – for both of them are more powerful than you. But there is good news. There is hope today. Christ can deliver you. He has defeated the Devil and has conquered the flesh and He can help you do the same in your life. Not only can He do it, but He died to do it and He lives again to do it. He loves you; and, like the Prodigal Son, He wants you to return home and waits to receive you, to forgive you, and to restore you to fellowship with God.
Why not make that commitment today? Begin today by doing the right things in your life.
2Timothy 3:14-17 teaches us, But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Besides, WHO WILL EVER KNOW?
I WILL KNOW. This is sufficient reason to shun sin even if it’s certain no one else will ever know. No one else has to know or live with my conscience 24 hours a day, but I do. And I need to confront myself in the mirror each morning without shame.
GOD WILL KNOW. Job said, “If I sin, You mark me” (Job 10:14). Joseph looked at temptation square in the face and refused to yield. He was far from home, but close to God. He said, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). I cannot do anything that He does not see!
MY CHRISTIAN FRIENDS WILL KNOW. They may not know of my particular sin, but they will be aware of my loss of influence. The church is a body and no member can sin or neglect doing what is good and right without harming the whole body. When I sin, I weaken the church.
WHEN CHRIST COMES, I’LL KNOW HE KNOWS. 1Corinthians 4:5 teaches us that He “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of the heart.” If I sin today, I must suffer for it someday.
Wise is the person who determines to live a righteous life and regardless of the pressures, obeys God and holds to His way. There is a real joy, as distinguished from worldly or fleshly fun, in any person of any age by obeying the Word of God. Nothing known to humanity can make us pure or right than does the actions of surrendering to the Gospel call, obeying God’s Word, and living faithfully for Him.
Psalm 119:1-2, 9-11, 105:
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
© 1981 by Jimmy Chrisman
© 2021 by J. David Chrisman
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.