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RIGHT OR WRONG, BLACK OR WHITE?
March 4, 2018
When it comes to right and wrong, there are three main schools of thought. On the one hand, some believe that there is no such thing as right or wrong, black or white. They believe in Situation ethics, also known as situational ethics. On the other hand, there are those who believe there is absolute right and wrong. They believe that there are things that are absolutely right in every case, and things that are absolutely wrong in every case. Many Christians, while not openly holding to a situation ethics view, often behave as if they did. As always, the Bible has the definitive answer. What is that answer?
Old Testament Passages
Let us go back to the very beginning. The first couple was told, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). Now, we might imagine what went through Eve's mind when Satan came and said, "Ye shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4), and followed up with the explanation, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5). Eve might have thought, "Well, in that case, maybe it will be okay." Moses tells us:
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
We know what happened next. God had spoken. He meant what He said. He cast the woman, and her husband who also ate the forbidden fruit, out of the garden and from the tree of life. Sin had entered the world and it would never be the same. Man died spiritually and, eventually, physically. The first couple learned that there was, in fact, a right and wrong, a black and white.
Consider the case of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron. Moses tells us:
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.
What was this "strange fire" that these two priests offered that occasioned their deaths? Note that they offered "strange fire which he commanded not." God told Aaron in Leviticus 16:11-13 to take fire from the altar of burnt offering to offer incense. Nadab and Abihu took fire from their censers to offer incense. Thus, it was strange (foreign, profane. See Brown-Driver-Briggs). There was a right and wrong here. These two priests chose the wrong way.
New Testament Passages
Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Can we know the will of the Lord? Jesus said in John 12:48:
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
Where did Jesus get His words? He answers, "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (John 12:49).
Jesus said in Matthew 7:22-23:
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The Lord illustrates this truth with the parable the two builders (Matt. 7:24-27).
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