Synthetic Morality

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Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8 NASV

Since the 1960’s when the hippie movement began, the rebellious spirit of this world has been formulating a new code of morality for the modern age. People are self righteous about promoting their synthetic morality: from the beginning they have been convinced that what they were doing and promoting was right. They have been so clever in rationalizing it, that even Christians have been deceived by the new moral codes.

The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. God isn’t going to change his mind just because everybody voted on it.

Yet, we have seen incredible shifts in personal values, ethics and morality since the 1960’s.  The hippies started it with their sexual revolution. Their free love philosophies have evolved many times with each successive generation.

Churches and Christians have fought these transitions, but the new morality steadily prevails and there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop it. Indeed, people don’t even feel that they have done anything wrong. They believe they are shaping a brave new world that is free of stuffy old-fashioned ideas.

Don’t be Distracted

Pope Francis said recently that such things are distractions, and we need to focus instead on “the fragrance of the Gospel.”  This was very helpful for me personally.

I’m not Catholic but I do think God uses the Pope to speak truth to this world.  Journalists look for statements from the Vatican more than any other Christian leader on earth. And, there is inspired wisdom in what Pope Francis said. We need to point people in the direction of Jesus, rather than campaigning against moral issues.

The world is anxious to have their behaviors approved by God: but this is a distraction. Don’t get sucked into it. As Christians we need to keep our focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I do believe that some people are called to take a stand for family values, and work to improve the quality of our governments: I’m not saying it is wrong to do that. But when dealing with people on an individual basis, we need to focus on sharing Jesus. He is the only one who can make a difference in our lives.

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13 NIV

Jesus condemned the self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude that the Pharisees were known for. Billy Graham reminded us recently that we are all sinners. What we perceive to be sin in others is actually none of our concern. Instead, we need to focus on the good news of Jesus Christ; we should encourage people to seek the Lord Jesus.

Don’t be distracted by the pet concerns of the world.

Who are the Elect?

The Bible warns that in end times there will be Deceptions so powerful that (if it was possible) even the very Elect would be deceived Matthew 24:24

And except the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved: but for the Elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. Mark 13:20 KJV

Who are the Elect? That’s the question we need to be concerned about. It’s so very easy to slide into the ways of the world and the pleasures of this life: there’s nothing new about that. What’s more difficult to understand is how to be one of God’s Elect, and yet this is something we should desire above all else.

The prophet Elijah was distressed that he was the only prophet of God. Elijah thought that no one else followed after the Lord, not one! But God told him he was wrong. “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” I Kings 19:18.

Hebrews 11 explains that these Elect were not chosen by what they did, but it was what they believed that made the difference. It was faith that saved them.

The next part is where Hebrews 11 gets really scary:

“What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The Elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” Hebrews 11:7 NIV

Remember, all the people of Israel were supposedly God’s chosen, and yet even among God’s people there were only a few that were actually living up to what God expected and wanted. It was those faithful few that God was looking for!

Sorting & Sifting

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.

And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:1-13 ESV

The parable of the ten virgins puts forward the idea that not all Christians are going to make it to heaven. All ten virgins were waiting for the return of Christ, but when He finally arrived, five of them were completely unprepared. And because they were unprepared, they were turned away. All ten women thought they were saved, but only half of them made it! Jesus told the five foolish women, “I never knew you.”

Again, this is VERY scary stuff. Obviously it’s not enough to wear the label. There’s a lot more to being a Christian than simply saying, “I’m a Christian.”

So, who are the Elect, then? Toward the end of his ministry, Jesus deliberately sifted his disciples in order to sort down to those who had the core “stuff” he was looking for in leadership. Jesus had hundreds of regular followers and the Bible mentions 70 disciples who were specially trained in ministry. BUT, by the time Jesus served the Last Supper in the upper room, only 12 disciples remained!

Most of Jesus’ disciples had departed earlier when He said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:53 NIV

This had deeply offended the disciples, even though (in verse 62) Jesus goes on to explain, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” Jesus hinted to those men that He had more to say on the subject: that He was speaking about his flesh in spiritual terms rather than physical.

But most of his disciples were worn out and fed up and disgusted, so they left. Those disciples missed out on one of the most exquisitely beautiful moments in the life of Christ: they did not attend the Last Supper where Jesus explained His words to the faithful men who remained.

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22:19-20 ESV

Do I have the spiritual fortitude to be one of God’s Elect? It’s a lot to live up to, but the formula is simple: Jesus’ closest disciples stayed faithful to Him even when they were confused and frightened, because they recognized the Spirit that was in Him.

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:66-69 ESV

Diligently Seek Him

The synthetic morality that our modern culture has devised is all about catering to the needs and desires of the flesh. “No Rules” is the mantra of this modern generation: nobody is gonna tell me what to do. Whatever feels good, do it!

However, true Faith isn’t about acts of the flesh. Jesus said that the flesh counts for nothing, which means that it’s not a higher calling to campaign for more rights for the flesh. In fact, the many discussions about sexual freedom have become one of the biggest distractions of our time. If we’re truly interested in God and in learning the wisdom of spiritual things as defined by God, then sex or any other fleshly indulgences are not the focus.

True disciples of the Lord Jesus are asked to lay down the flesh and take up the cross. This means that I accept God’s will for my life instead of chasing after all the pleasures of life. Not that it’s wrong to have relationships and be married: but for some people we chase after relationships our whole life and get absolutely nowhere. I need to seek God first, and allow Him to shape my life according to His own plan.

How can we possibly take up our cross, unless we completely believe that spiritual things are more valid than the things of this world? And because we believe that the spiritual things of God are valid and valuable, we should eagerly seek God’s will for our lives.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6 KJV

We don’t become God’s Elect by accident, not by any means!  The word, diligently, implies a lot of hard work, effort, dedication, commitment and endurance.

  • You can ask God to help you be a better disciple.
  • You can ask God to soften your heart, open your eyes and your ears.
  • You can ask God to help you understand His will for your life.

Evolving Definitions of Family

I want to make a note about Family before closing this section on morality. The definitions of Family are changing and evolving. We see it in the news almost every day, as boundaries are confronted and brought down by society, as well as by legislation.

I predict that the new, modern definitions of Family are not going to work out any better than traditional definitions of Family. Already we’re seeing that gay married couples have been getting divorces at a surprising rate.  But many people want to try raising families in a whole new setting, and at this point there is no stopping them.

Besides, I think the awful mess created by so-called “traditional” families may have paved the way for the new family combinations that we’re seeing now. The popular movement toward alternative lifestyles didn’t happen overnight.

My friend “Evelyn” grew up in a classic traditional neighborhood in the 1950’s that (from all outward appearances) seemed to be stocked with a typical American family in every home. By the time Evelyn graduated from college, all but one married couple on her block had divorced. Evelyn’s parents stayed married, but they had such an awful marriage Evelyn left home as soon as she could. She was deeply hurt by her parents, over and over again, throughout her life; because they were never there for her.

Five of my close friends grew up with very hurtful family conditions, from which they have spent their lifetimes trying to recover. Selfish, angry, and sometimes brutal adults can inflict terrible harm on their innocent children. This tragedy is far more common than it should be.

So if one average city block in an average American town had a 99% marriage failure rate during the 1960’s, how did such statistics influence the rebellion of that same time period? Perhaps the hippie generation really was starved for Love. Maybe their ground-breaking rebellion was actually an anguished cry for help. I wonder how many of the hippies were desperate for comfort, because they hadn’t found it in their own homes?

But the Free Love experiment didn’t work out very well, because single mothers ended up raising their children alone. The 2010 USA census revealed that the number of children living in one-parent households has almost doubled since the 1960’s.

And now the Gay Revolution is re-defining love and family once again.  I don’t think there would be as much interest in alternative families, if traditional families had done a better job 75-100 years ago. I think it’s the failure of previous generations that has possibly brought us to this point.

Each successive generation has produced more young people who grew up even more confused about love, family, God, relationships and marriage. Many of them have had a very difficult time understanding how to raise their own children.

Christian families can’t point fingers, because there have been nearly as many problems within the Church as there are without.  So until we get our act together, Christians don’t have a right to complain about alternative families (in my opinion.) We have our own work to do: we can’t tell other people how to be a family until we’ve got it figured out for ourselves.

I do think God designed families to be a certain way, but society is so confused now, it’s not possible to convince them of that.

We risk derailing the Gospel message altogether, if we focus on what people do. This distraction may also be part of the prevalent deception of these times. And if we know that the White Horseman does indeed prevail, then we should focus on the Great Commission while we still can: rather than try to turn back a tide which can’t be stopped.

Jesus commanded us to preach the gospel, to spread the Good News of peace through Jesus Christ. Don’t be distracted, because this truly is the only message that can change lives.

And Jesus said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned. Matthew 28:15-16 ASV