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Who defines the concept of Morality?

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by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Romans 2:12-16

I.         Where does the concept of right and wrong come from?

            A.        Why are some things “right” and other things “wrong?”            B.        Paul points out that the Gentiles were able by nature to know right from wrong – Romans 2:14-15

II.        Where morality doesn’t come from

            A.        Some people want to deny that there is an absolute right or wrong.                        1.         What is moral or immoral depends on the situation. In particular, if the end results appears to be good, then we are to conclude that the cause was good.

                        2.         Paul proved that this reasoning is false – Romans 5:20-6:2

                                    a.         Paul is saying it doesn’t make senses, it is a contradiction

                                    b.         Such reasoning is justly condemned – Romans 3:8

            B.        Some people argue that morality comes from within each individual                        1.         But that doesn’t work. There are things some people will do that I cannot accept                         2.         Supposedly this is acceptable and we are told that we must make allowances for the differing standards of people                         3.         Yet there are a lot of people out there who don’t care about their fellow man. By this “rule” I would be immoral for saying that Osama Bin Laden or Hitler’s actions were wrong.                                     a.         But wait a minute, I thought everyone determined for themselves what was right or wrong.                         4.         So we learn that it doesn’t happen in reality, people have standards at some level they want to impose on others.                         5.         God tells us that man doesn’t have the ability to determine right and wrong – Jeremiah 10:23

            C.        Morality doesn’t come from law                        1.         Returning to Paul’s point in Romans 2:14-15, the Gentiles were able to do right and wrong without having the law.

                        2.         Therefore law doesn’t determine what is right or wrong.

                        3.         Law defines right and wrong – Romans 7:7-13                                    a.         The law does not make things right or wrong, it simply states what exists.

                                    b.         We have in science a law of gravity.                                                (1)       Now gravity existed long before someone came up with the law of gravity.                                                 (2)       The law of gravity defines how gravity operates, but it did not create gravity.                                     c.         Murder is wrong. The law only explained that murder is a sin. The law did not make murder into a sin.

                                    d.         This is why God’s law is called truth – Psalm 119:142                                                (1)       Unlike man’s laws which are sometimes arbitrary and inaccurate, God’s law accurately define what exists.

III.       Where morality does come from

            A.        One fundamental point, among many, about God is that He is love – I John 4:8

                        1.         God is the embodiment of love

            B.        We have love because God first loved us – I John 4:17-21

                        1.         When we love, we are imitating God (vs. 17)

                        2.         Love did not start with us – I John 4:10

            C.        Jesus explained that the core to all law is love – Matthew 22:36-40

            D.        Laws come from God – II Timothy 3:16-17

                        1.         They never came from man – II Peter 1:19-21

                        2.         Laws are for our good – Deuteronomy 6:24

                                    a.         In a prophecy of the new law – Jeremiah 32:39

                                    b.         So that we might have life – Romans 6:21-22                        3.         In other words, God in His love for us gave us Laws to explain what is right and wrong – I John 5:2-3                         4.         We in turn show our love for God by keeping his commandments – John 14:15

            E.        When we follow God’s laws, we become like Him – I Peter 1:22

            F.        And God gives us laws to protect us from harm – Proverbs 6:23-24

                        1.         And that protection from harm is evidence of love

IV.      We need law because on our own we do not accurately distinguish good from evil            A.        It is by learning God’s law and putting it into practice that we are able to make the distinction – Hebrews 5:13-14

            B.        Though morality doesn’t come from law, law does teach us what is moral.

            C.        That was the advantage the Jews had over the Greeks – Romans 3:1-3                        1.         Even though the Jews were faithless in their keeping of the law, they did have the advantage of a better knowledge of what was right and wrong.

            D.        People often don’t recognize evil – Ecclesiastes 5:1; Psalm 82:4-5            E.        When God told Adam and Eve not to eat of one tree, He was telling them what already existed – Genesis 2:16-17

                        1.         Danger existed. There was something there that had bad consequences.                        2.         Adam and Eve were made aware by a commandment that the danger existed.

                        3.         Yet, they broke the commandment and thereby sinned – Romans 5:12            F.        God has always warned us of the dangers. There has always been laws – Romans 5:12-14

                        1.         Even before Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, people had laws.                        2.         How do I know? Because people were sinning before Moses lived – Genesis 4:7                         3.         Sin doesn’t exist without the presence of law because sin is defined to be the breaking of law – I John 3:4

V.        God has shown us what is good – Micah 6:6-8

            A.        Isn’t the prudent thing to listen? – Proverbs 4:1-27

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