The Morals of the Christian

J. David Lawrence
Charleston, Arkansas

The road to heaven is not always an easy one to travel. Our "adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Pet. 5:8) . The child of God encounters temptations a t every juncture. Easily and gently Christians are frequently led back into the world by that process known as moral decay. It begins with the breakdown of one principle, and continues until the entire character is infiltrated by sin. Since the "wages of sin is death," (Rom. 6:23 ), that soul finds itself separated from God and destined for the terrors of an eternal hell.

Any attempt to minimize and diminish the importance of morality in the life of the Christian is folly in the extreme. Morals rest upon faith, and are a result of it. The kind of lives led by professing Christians demonstrates their acceptance of the gospel, or their rejection of it. "Actions speak louder than words" is indeed an axiom of truth. Mental or vocal assent to certain New Testament doctrines without the fruits of faith is as ineffective, as far as salvation is concerned, as the sectarian "faith only" dogma.

We perceive that there are many in the church who fail to understand the purpose of a pure and spotless life. God, in delivering us from the power of darkness and translating us into the kingdom of his dear Son (Col. 1:13) , has made us his people. As Peter reveals: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Pet. 2:9). The church exists as a manifestation of God's wisdom (Eph. 3:10). In Living this moral, sinless life we fulfill the purpose for which God created man, and for which Christ came (Eph. 1:23) . It is our responsibility to be the light in the world of darkness, and actually be the very evidence and proof of God's spiritual creative power (Eph. 2:10). It becomes the grave responsibility of the church - of you and me as members, therefore - to be without "spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27). If the realization could ever soak in that we are to be the demonstration of the truth, and an example 'of righteousness to the world, perhaps some complacent, world-loving, irresponsible members of the body of Jesus Christ would sit up and take notice.

If the fact that we are to show the manifold wisdom of God is not enough incentive to lead pure lives, then perhaps another reason will suffice. That second reason would be salvation. Our morals which we develop and adhere to here prepare us for heaven (Col. 3:1) . If we will not live like Christ, then we should not expect to live with Christ. Thus the Christian has motive for morality. He desires to go to heaven.

Morality, then, is a result of faith in Christ. We trust him, and do as he says. Morals resulting from anything else would be unacceptable to God. People in the world sometimes abstain from sin. When they do, it is because they see in their action some personal, temporal profit. A man quits drinking because if he doesn't he will lose his job, not because he realizes that to drink is sin, and he wants to do what is right. Often Christians abandon evil practices for other reasons than faith. They might as well continue in them, for their hearts still condone and approve error. Paul said in Romans 6:17, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." It is possible to have a form of godliness, but unless that godliness is sincere and heart-felt, it is vain.

As far as the worldly man is concerned, we can hardly expect him to maintain high moral standards, for the incentive is lacking. He, not being a Christian, cannot demonstrate God's wise plan, neither can he look forward to the glories of heaven. On the other hand, the Christian has every possible reason to lead a righteous life.

If the morals of a Christian are a result of his faith in Christ, then it would logically follow that where there is a lack of morals, there is also a lack of faith. It may be that we are ignorant of the will of God, not having heard, for faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17) . Or it may be that the word was not received into a fully honest heart. The many, many, distressing examples of immorality in the church today, and the frail attempts to justify them, are but a glaring testimony to unbelief. Sins that are not even named among some religious groups find their way in among God's people. (Through the morality of these groups is to no avail when lack of faith is manifested by false doctrine.)

Look at the church of Christ! Look at the church Jesus purchased with his own blood, called out of the world to walk in the light of truth, called to be separate, to be holy and without blemish, to show forth the wisdom and praises of God, to fulfill the purposes of God for man while developing the character that will enable it to be received into everlasting habitations! Here is a woman exposing her body with indecent apparel. Here are young folks engaging in sensuality on the dance floor. Here is the Christian husband having an affair with another woman, or drinking (socially, that is!) or using the language of a reprobate. Here we see Christians, supposedly, spurning the assembly of the saints, gossiping, gambling, identified with base people, dealing dishonestly in business, and having an unreliable or downright bad reputation in the community. Let not the reader think these examples of immorality are purely hypothetical. We have had some member of the church in mind in regard to each of them!

Are we, brethren, taking this matter of sin and morality lightly? Do we not realize the seriousness of our acts upon this earth? When we shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ, as indeed we all shall, we will be receiving our rewards or punishments according to the deeds done in the body (II Cor. 5:10). May we have the faith required to make adequate preparation for that occasion now while opportunity remains. May God help us to hear and respond to his call to his people: "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (lI Cor. 6:17).

Truth Magazine, V:12, pp. 1, 22
September 1961