By Weldon E. Warnock
Morality involves behavior — behavior that conforms to a standard of what is right and wrong. The standard is the Bible. Behavior is not determined by how we feel or by what we think, or by what is popular, but rather behavior is to be regulated by the Word of God.
The norm for the Christian is God Himself. Peter wrote, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (conduct); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16). John stated, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 Jn. 3:3). Since God is unchangeable and absolute, then our moral standard is unchangeable and absolute.
What a contrast between the biblical standard and the liberal and modernistic theologians of our era. Ernest Harrison, Anglican, declared, “The New Moralist does not accept at all the notion that there are moral standards which are revealed by God.” Joseph Fletcher, Episcopalian, said, “. . . anything and everything is right or wrong, according to the situation.” Emil Brunner, Swiss Reform, assqrted that there are no intrinsic values.
Unfortunately, the people of God have absorbed some of this loose thinking in one form or another till there is hardly any difference in the manner of living between many members of the church and those “decent” people in the world. Francis Breisch stated as much when he said of “evangelicals” (he would put us in this category) that they tend to be identical with the activities of any other “respectable” members of the community. He said, “They often patronize the same amusements, read the same magazines and books, engage in the same recreations, talk about the same subjects, and listen to the same music. There is little, if anything in their system of values that differs from that of non-evangelicals” (Facing Today’s Problems, p. 123).
One brother said, “The ancient landmarks of Christian living have been removed. They have been set back to take in nearly everything.” Truer words were never spoken. Reasons for this retreat are because elders have lost their courage and conviction to keep the church pure and preachers are more interested in keeping their jobs and their popularity than they are concerned about the moral integrity of the church of our Lord. Let us stand, brethren, for holy living! This is no time for compromise and “soft-peddling.”
The Landmarks of Morality
The landmarks of morality have been set back in many areas. The urgent need is to put them back where God placed them; to restore them to their rightful positions. Areas where there is a need of restoration are:
1. Modest apparel. Christians are to dress in becoming apparel that reflects holiness of life. Paul wrote, “. . that women adorn themselves in modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety.” “Shamefacedness” means “a sense of shame” and “sobriety” indicates “propriety; good sense.” When children of God engage in mixed-swimming, parade around in mini-dresses, see-through blouses, tight-fitting skirts and pants, and short-shorts, they have neither shame nor good sense. To dress in such a fashion so as to excite lust in the opposite sex is wrong. Godly, conscientious people do not dress in this manner (cf. 1 Pet. 3:14; Prov. 7:10).
2. Dancing. There are many evils of the modern dance, especially disco dancing. It kills a Christian’s influence, destroys his spirituality, places one in a vile and degrading atmosphere where there is profanity, drugs and alcohol, involves one in lasciviousness, and leads to fornication. Many “good girls” who became unwed mothers trace their downfall to the dance hall. The Bible teaches that lasciviousness and reveling will damn our souls (Gal. 5:19-21).
3. Salacious literature. Some Christian (?) homes receive regularly salacious (lustful) literature. They either buy it at the newsstand or subscribe to it via movie and sex magazines, sordid love stories, filthy detectives or true confessions. They are openly exposing themselves to temptation, sin and spiritual death.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true . . . honest . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8). One cannot read suggestive and vulgar literature and think on these virtuous qualities named by Paul. To live right, we must think right and to think right, we must read right. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). We need in our homes wholesome literature and not the filthy sluice of slime from degenerate men.
4. Movies and television. A great number of movies are obscene, licentious, godless, blasphemous and degrading. They have been classified as G, PG, R and X in order for the movie-goers to exercise discrimination. But sometimes you cannot depend on the ratings, especially the PG’s, as they may be right on the border line of an R rating.
Movies are now being “piped” into homes on the HBO, Cinemax and Playboy Channel networks that are as rancid and raunchy as any shown at the public theaters. There is little, if any, censure in many cases. Children are left free to watch whatever they want. Television in general is becoming more coarse and more brazen. Whether it be movies or television, Christians must be selective and watch those things in harmony with moral principles.
5. Social drinking and drugs. The abuse of alcohol is one of the most prevalent sins in America. Most people consume alcohol in various measures. Alcoholism (drunkenness) is one of our major social problems. Most Catholics, Protestants and Jews drink alcoholic beverages. But Christians must abstain from this moral blight that is so widespread. However, more and more are seeing nothing wrong with it in moderation.
But we need to consider that social drinking ruins our influence, harms the body, dulls our judgment, runs the risk of alcohol addiction, and finally, is contrary to the Bible. The Bible condemns both drunkenness and social drinking (Prov. 20:1; 23:29-32; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18; 1 Pet. 3:3-4).
Drug abuse (narcotics, stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens) is also widespread, affecting all levels of society the young, old, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, religious and non-religious. From a Christian point of view there are many reasons why a child of God should not experiment with drugs. Among those reasons are illegality of the practice (Rom. 13), health of the body and mind which are to be used for God’s glory ( Cor. 6:19-20), influence (Mt. 5:16; Phil. 2:15) and a work of the flesh (drugs were used in connection with sorcery, Gal. 5:19-21). A Christian should be satisfied with his life in Christ rather than seeking a “high” from drug abuse (cf. Gal. 2:20).
6. Marriage fidelity. Extra-marital affairs (adultery), wife-swapping and divorce and remarriage have become common occurrences. There is an epidemic of marriage infidelity in the church, even among preachers, elders, deacons and Bible teachers. The divine injunction to “flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18) is completely ignored.
God’s standard on the permanency of marriage has been lowered and accommodations have been made to fellowship those who have abandoned their mates by divorce and are living in adultery. The church is being filled with adulterous members.
The law of God on marriage for both saint and sinner is “till death do us part” (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39), with only one exception – fornication (Mt. 5:32; 19:9). Hebrews 13:4 needs to be shouted from the housetop, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
7. Modern music. There is nothing wrong with music per se. All of us enjoy listening to music of some kind. However, much of today’s music has become a channel for selling this generation on drugs, rebellion, illicit sex, vulgar language and antiChristian philosophy. This is true with much (not all) “rock ‘n’ roll” music and some of the country songs.
Some of the Top Hits in the past have been, “Let’s Make a Baby,” “Do Something Freaky,” “Afternoon Delight,” “Share the Night Together,” “Hot Child in the City,” “I Had Her Almost Persuaded,” “Behind Closed Doors,” and others
that are too explicit to mention. With songs like these it is no wonder we are undergoing such a sexual revolution wherein virginity has become old-fashion.
Andrew Fletcher, back in the 17th century, penned the famous line, “Give me the making of the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.” The point is that our music probably influences us more than our laws. Teen-agers say they can listen to all of today’s music without being affected, but it is just not so. Somewhere it will show up in their lives.
Christians must develop a new mind and they cannot do this by listening to “gutter” music. Paul said, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23). A person who is regenerated, renewed and reformed will be discerning as to what he listens to in the way of music. Parents need to be observant and constructive as to the kind of records their children buy and the songs they hear.
Several other things could be enumerated that endanger the children of God but space does not permit. What is imperative among all of us is that we return to or hold on to the principles of righteousness that God has clearly laid down in His Word. Those things are as follows:
Principles of Moral Conduct
1. Love not the world. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I1Jn. 2:15; cf. Jas. 1:27; 4:4).
2. Be not conformed to the world. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. . . ” (Rom. 12:2). I like Phillip’s translation of this text. “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God mold your minds from within. . .”
3. Have no fellowship. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). Not only must we not participate in the works of darkness, but we must reprove, express disapproval, condemn, expose and refute. God calls on us here to be militant toward sin.
4. Abstain from all evil. “Abstain from all appearance (every form) of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22; cf. 1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Pet. 2:11). “Abstain” means to “hold off from.”
5. Flee from all evil. “Flee also youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22; cf. 1 Tim. 6:11; 1 Cor. 6:18). We need to run from sin and not wait around the corner or leave a forwarding address.
6. Put off the old man. “That ye put off concerning the former conversation (behavior) the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. . . . And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22,24).
7. Mortify the flesh. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5; cf. Rom. 6).
8. Deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 2:12).
In conclusion, may we all awake to Paul’s clarion call, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not” (I Cor. 15:34). May Jesus rind us without spot and blameless when He comes (2 Pet. 3:14). Let us sing the old song with all fervor and sincerity, “Purer in heart, O God, Help me to be. . . . “
Guardian of Truth XXX: 11, pp. 346-347, 353
June 5, 1986