LIVING A MORAL LIFE IN
AN IMMORAL SOCIETY
By David Lawrence
To describe someone as being immoral, is to pass judgement of their actions as being outside the standards of right behaviour. The immediate question that comes to our mind is, who determines what is right behaviour? The various countries and societies that we live in have varying and sometimes conflicting standards, so it becomes almost impossible to establish a bench mark to make our measurements against.
This difficulty is removed when we ignore the laws or conventions that man has established, and focus our attention on the standard that the Creator of this universe has set. His standard is consistent throughout Gods word, from Old Testament to New. "Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God. And ye shall keep my statutes and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify you" (Lev. 20:7-8). The children of Israel were to be like their Creator.
The apostle Peter restates this principle when he quotes this verse in 1 Pet. 1:15-16, "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (behaviour or conduct); because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy." To be sanctified or holy is to be set apart for a specific purpose. This means that those who would be pleasing to their Creator, must separate themselves from the standards of the world thy live in, and be conformed to Godly principles. Jesus says, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). This goal of perfection is where our sights have to be set. The example of a perfect life is only to be seen in the Lord Jesus Christ. All our efforts fall short, so as we consider the abject wickedness that surrounds us, we must never become smug and hypocritical, but realize that we can only be acceptable in the sight of our Creator by Gods forgiveness of our sins.
The enormity of mankinds immorality sometimes fades as we are constantly surrounded by it. The city I live in helps to illustrate this point. We have three pulp mills here which emit a very distinct odour, an odour that the companies have tried their best to reduce over the last few years. Those of us who live here hardly notice it at all, but when a visitor comes, quite often they are struck by the smell. Sin is like that. The subtle indoctrination we are fed on a daily basis by all forms of the media, the blatant flaunting of gross immorality which gradually becomes the norm, all numb our senses to the stink that surrounds us.
Lot, by a slow process, found himself surrounded by a society that was so abhorrent in Gods sight, it had to be eradicated. If the clear choice had been laid before him I am sure he would never have moved his family into that environment.
Look at the process. He looked from a distance (Gen. 13:10), he chose that area and journeyed toward it (v. 11), he then lived close to Sodom (v. 12). We next find him living in the city (Gen. 14:12), and eventually part of the establishment of Sodom (Gen.19:1). We make little compromises in our lives, we justify thoughts or actions, and before we know it, we are not set apart for our God, but entangled in the things of the world. The deliverance of Lot by the mercy of God is spoken of by Peter.
"...and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)." (2 Pet. 2:6-8)
Lot had made a mistake by taking his family into this immoral environment, and his conscience bothered him daily, but still be did not change his situation. His life was spared by the intervention of Abraham the friend of God, but in reality he lost everything. What a frightening picture for us and our families in the degenerate age we live in. What a graphic picture of Gods estimation of the life style practiced in those cities.
The root word Sodom has passed into the English language to portray actions and people who engage in deviant sexual behaviour. The laws of most countries contained penalties for people who committed such acts, but society does not condemn these actions as it once did. It now looks at a homosexual relationship as a matter of sexual orientation and preference, and if we discriminate in any way against people with such a life style, we are in danger of having the weight of the law brought to bear on us. It is not something that is done in secret any more, but openly flaunted, encouraged and advocated. We have openly "gay" and lesbian politicians, clergy, radio broadcasters, entertainers and many other people with prominent positions in society around us. It is almost to the point where one feels odd to be heterosexual. The word of God leaves no doubt as to how our Creator views these actions.
In a section of God's law through Moses dealing with sexual relations, this is what we are told about homo-sexuality. "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Lev. 20: 13). In the New Testament Paul tells us how mankind has rejected their Creator and as a result sunk into many forms of depravity, suffering the consequences.
"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet." (Rom. 1: 26-27)
In our age we have seen a "recompence of error" in the scourge of AIDS that is so common among those that practice these abominations. At the end of a long list of characteristics that portray our world well, Paul ends by saying, "... who knowing the judgement of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (v. 32).
There are two facts of life that human beings have a hard time accepting, responsibilities and consequences. We do not like to take responsibility for our actions, but do our best to place the blame on any other party. This principle is portrayed by our first parents in the garden of Eden. When we finally accept responsibility for our actions, we do not like to suffer the consequences. These two facts of life come into play in the immorality of the age we live in.
In Gal. 5: 19-21 Paul gives a list of actions that are abhorrent in the sight of God. All the things listed will prohibit our entrance into the kingdom of God, both immorality and murder bring the same result. This means that the accepted life styles of the societies we live in are a death sentence to those practicing them. This also applies to those who vicariously engage in sex and violence through books, videos and television in the privacy of their own homes and minds.
"Finally, brethren , whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Phil. 4: 8).
God has built into his creation very strong sexual drives, and in His word has laid out the way we are to satisfy these drives. They are only to be satisfied by two people bound together by the public vows they have made to each other at marriage. This Godly principle has been abrogated by our modern world, where virginity and chastity are conditions that are the exception and not the rule. People now live together and have partners, not husbands or wives.
Pre-marital sex and affairs involving married couples are again common things in our societies. Gods word tells us these things are wrong, and that love does not make them right. In fact our Lord takes it beyond actions to the thought processes that are behind them. "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt. 5:27-28).
There were consequences for these action in times past, venereal disease and unmarried mothers. With modern medicine and the advent of the pill, the possibility of suffering the consequences of our actions has been greatly reduced. The practice of abortion as a means of ending unwanted pregnancies among unmarried women has the complete backing of the societies we live in. The social stigma that went with these things has also almost vanished.
Where does this leave people who are trying to do those things which are right in the sight of God? They become more abnormal to the world around them as each day passes, and the subtle indoctrination suffered makes it harder to follow that right way. We have not considered other immoral acts like stealing, lying and gambling, but have reserved our attention for sexual matters. Things will not get better till the Son of God returns to this earth, and until he does, we must keep these principles clear in our minds and do our best to follow them.
No matter what state we find ourselves in at the present, God is always willing to work with repentant sinners. Paul makes this very clear to the believers in Corinth. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:9-11). We pray our God that we all would avail ourselves of this cleansing, and walk worthy of the love our God has shown to us till his son return.
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