SUNDAY STUDY: Right or wrong?

from "Pocket Guide to Social Issues"

You may not have thought much about it, but how do you know what is right and wrong?

Different cultures have different standards, but there is an underlying sense of morality in all people. Everyone has a conscience! No matter where you go, people know that it is wrong to steal, to lie, and to murder.

Evolutionary scientists try to explain this as a response that has helped groups of people survive over millions of years. This story helps explain what they think happened, but there is no way to test if it is true. In fact, if humans are simply evolved apes, why is it wrong to murder or steal or lie? If it helps an individual to survive and pass on their genes, it should be applauded to be consistent with an evolutionary worldview.

That feeling that you get when you lie, cheat, or steal comes from your conscience. Rather than being the result of random chemical reactions that were shaped by evolutionary processes, your conscience is given to you by God. If there is a moral law, there must be a Lawgiver. In the Bible, we read that everyone shows “the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them” (Rom. 2:15). Everyone knows what is right and wrong because God has given each person a knowledge of right and wrong – the conscience.

Even though those who commit these crimes know they are wrong, they suppress the truth and bring the judgment of God upon themselves:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:18-21).

There are no true atheists, only those who choose to reject God. God has revealed His law in the hearts of all men (the conscience) but He has also revealed it in His written word – the Bible.

In the Bible you can find what God demands of mankind. He has the right to make these demands because He is the Creator of the universe. The first chapters of the book of Genesis describe how God created the universe and the first man and woman. He gave them a single command and they chose to eat of the forbidden fruit. This was the first sin committed by mankind – and sin has been with us ever since.

Every time we break one of God’s commands we are sinning. God is described as a just Judge (Psalm 7:11), and so He must punish those who break His laws.

  • Would you be guilty if God judged you against His holy standard?
  • Does your conscience confirm your guilt?
  • If you have ever told a lie, stolen anything, put anything before God, or used His name in a loose way, you have sinned against God.

These things may seem somewhat trivial to you, and you may think you will be excused since everyone else has done these things, too. Regardless of how you feel, however, you stand condemned before the God of the universe.

But all is not lost. You still have hope in avoiding the consequences of your actions. Not only is God just, He is also merciful. In His mercy, He orchestrated a plan that would rescue sinners. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, stepped into His creation so that He could pay the penalty for the sins of mankind. He lived a perfect life – He did not commit a single sin – and then offered Himself as a substitute for the penalty that each person deserves. As He hung on the Cross, God poured out His wrath against sin on Jesus. This substitutionary sacrifice is made available for all of those who will repent of their sins, confess them to God, and turn from that sin as they trust in Christ’s death to save them. 

This is the message of the gospel. The Bible gives the true history of the earth and mankind. Not only does it reveal the past, but it reveals what will happen in the future. After Jesus died on the Cross, He was buried and rose to life on the third day, demonstrating His power over death (1 Cor. 15:3-6). Christ will return to the earth one day, and each man will be judged for his sins. Those who belong to Christ will be resurrected to eternal life in heaven; those who do not will spend an eternity separated from God in hell.

As you examine your life, does your conscience scream, “Guilty!”? The Bible tells us that there is salvation in no other name besides Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Many people try to suppress their consciences with a busy lifestyle, drugs, alcohol, or by simply rejecting God and putting something else in His rightful place in their lives.

When you stand before God, how will you answer for your sins?  Will you allow Christ to be your Lord and Savior, or will you reject His kind offer of salvation?