Knowing Right From Wrong
Knowing right from wrong is a complex and subjective subject. As we enter Day 5 of 24 Day Challenge – Renewing Your Mind and Conscience, we examine the issue. In some past civilizations, children grew up believing it was morally acceptable to kill and eat their enemies! For them, this was right. For us, it was very wrong. There are studies which show that babies have a sense of right/wrong, good/bad from a very young age, perhaps as young as three months old! However, the morals of our society are not the same as having God’s laws written on our hearts.
“Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.” Romans 2:14-15 NIV
“For example, whenever people who don’t possess the law as their birthright commit sin, it still confirms that a “law” is present in their conscience. For when they instinctively do what the law requires, that becomes a “law” to govern them, even though they don’t have Mosaic law. It demonstrates that the requirements of the law are woven into their hearts. They know what is right and wrong, for their conscience validates this “law” in their heart. Their thoughts correct them in one instance and commend them in another.” Romans 2:14-15 TPT
Everything Works Together for Good
The Passion Translation clarifies this passage The point here, for our purposes, is that this clearly shows how the conscience and the mind work together.
Moral standards change. They change with feelings, knowledge, circumstances, and the opinions of others. Before becoming a Christian, many had habits in their lives which they believed to be perfectly acceptable. After salvation, their hearts, minds, and conscience changed as God gave them a new heart with new standards written on it.
Moral and Societal Standards Evolve
I am sure we all have things in our lives which we once thought were right and good, yet, which we now see as bad or wrong. Perhaps they don’t rise to the level of sin, but we have changed and adjusted our standards of right and wrong, at least for ourselves. The Holy Spirit has been at work inside of us helping us make those changes to conform to the image of Christ and, as part of the process, change our minds and consciences.
We can easily see the shift in moral standards, standards of right and wrong, in our own society. Things we would never have seen or heard on television thirty years ago are now completely acceptable. What our society once held to be inappropriate, is now appropriate. This does not mean that all the changes are bad, it just shows how standards can evolve in people and societies.Moral standards change with feelings, society, and circumstances. God's standards remain the same because they are based on His perfect character and love. Then He writes them on our hearts. Click To Tweet
God Does Not Change His Mind
Conversely, God’s laws or commandments do not change. God’s laws in the New Testament are not laws saying what we can eat or drink or read. God’s law is summed up in the first two commandments.
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40 NIV
Jesus’ Law Does Not Change
Jesus’ law is unchanging. It is the law of grace. Because it is not specific as to how to accomplish it and each person is left to make that determination for themselves. This is one of the aspects of living under grace which often leads us to create a system of works enabling us to measure our actions. How do you measure – love your neighbor as yourself? It doesn’t even help to compare yourself to someone else! We are all so different that comparison fails us and leaves us even more frustrated. God is not interested in quantity. He is not comparing you to anyone else. He is looking at your heart. Is it set on Him? Are you doing your best? If so, He is probably far more satisfied than you are!
In the Old Testament, there was a very specific set of laws. It started with the Ten Commandments and then the Mosaic law was added. Mosaic law contained 611 laws plus the first two commandments, spoken by God, for a total of 613 laws people were expected to obey. There was a standard of measure. For instance, ‘thou shalt not murder.” Ok, I can check that one off, I have never murdered anyone. Or, ‘thou shalt not commit adultery.” Check – never did that.
Knowing Right From Wrong is About Your Heart
Then Jesus turned that upside down. He said that if you had ever even looked at someone lustfully, you had committed adultery in your heart. Why? Because you just broke the second commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. No one knows what Jesus wrote in the dirt as the people surrounded Him and the woman caught in adultery, ready to stone her to death. Whatever it was, it caused every person to turn away. Perhaps, it was this very statement about committing adultery simply through your own thoughts! Regardless, it proved a point. There was forgiveness in her repentance and no one had the right to judge her because they fell short of the new standard which looks at the inside of us not the outside.
Law judged the outward appearance. Grace seeks to change the inward man, Only God and the Word can judge my heart because He is the only one who knows it. In fact, He often knows it better than I do.
Our Hope is Not in Ourselves
So, is this hopeless? Of course not. God never leaves us without hope. The whole point is that He just wants our whole heart. Like Jesus said – love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength! We can all do that because He lives inside us through the Holy Spirit. He also gave us an alarm system – our conscience.
- the mind of Christ
- a new heart with God’s law written on it.
- forgiveness and grace
- the armor of God
- the Holy Spirit
- the Word
- strength to continually take off the old man and put on the new one
- faith, hope and love
We do NOT have:
- impossible standards (no one could keep the 613 laws)
So, as you renew your mind in the Word, prayer, worship, praise and fellowship each day – you have all you need to succeed in God’s eyes. That’s victory!
Click Here to download today’s devotional and journal about your own progress so far! Remember – you’ve got this because Jesus has you.
**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
Links to Blogs you may have missed:
Day 1 – 24 Day Challenge – Renewing Your Mind and Conscience
Day 2 – Living By the Golden Rule
Day 3 – Being Falsely Accused
Day 4 – A Personal Testimony of Salvation