Gleanings – Christian Ethics

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by Dr. Gerald Chester

Christian Ethics

Since the fall of mankind, the only person born without a sin nature—an innate bias to sin—was Jesus. This means that every human, other than Jesus, did not and does not innately seek God and cannot meet God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:10–12). Jesus was (and is) the only human being who could (and did) meet God’s righteous standards. And, as stated in the text above, Jesus’ singular purpose was to do the will of God. Those the Holy Spirit has regenerated and empowered to become disciples of Jesus are commanded to live as he did.

Followers of Jesus must practice a lifestyle regulated by Scripture. Jesus modeled this when he was tested in the desert. Though hungry after a forty-day fast, Satan suggested that if he was the son of God (and he was), he could satisfy his hunger by turning the rocks into bread (and he could have done that). However, Jesus’ response was that he had not been directed by his heavenly Father to do so and, therefore, would not do it because his life was regulated by Scripture (Matthew 4:1–4). Following Jesus’ pattern means recognizing that Scripture is the requisite compass to guide disciples to make right choices.

Living a Christian ethic—regulated by Scripture holistically, as Jesus lived—is the essence of the Christian lifestyle. Disciples of Jesus practice a lifestyle committed to obedience to God as revealed first and foremost in Scripture (special revelation) and secondarily in creation (general revelation).

As the primary source to define the Christian lifestyle, Scripture provides the ethics to govern life’s choices. Many of the ethics are unequivocal, that is, they have been (and are) clearly understood, such as the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17), the Creation Mandate (Genesis 1:26–28), and the Greatest Command (Matthew 22:36–40). But there are also many situations that Scripture does not address unequivocally. For example, on the issue of debt, use of alcohol, and the death penalty, the Scripture is not absolutely clear. But scriptural guidance can be discerned through ethical reflection.

Ethical reflection is the process of discerning the will of God. This is accomplished by harmonizing all relevant Scripture on a matter. A key principle to use is ASK (ask–seek–knock) found in Matthew 7:7–8. Askmeans to pray for wisdom and discernment, seek means to study Scripture and research options, and knock means to pray again, allowing the Lord to open the door of understanding or opportunity.

While we must take personal responsibility to engage this process, it is wise to engage godly teachers and spiritual parents to assist in the ASK process. Ethical reflection can be very challenging. A person is wise, therefore, to be humble and utilize the assistance of others.

In the final analysis, Christian ethics is discerning and obeying the will of God in every area of life. This is the essence of being a disciple of Jesus.

Here is your business tip. Wise organizational leaders recognize the importance of building organizations with people who are disciples of Jesus. Such people live like Jesus, who modeled a holistic lifestyle regulated by Scripture. On issues to which Scripture speaks unequivocally, disciples obey Scripture. On issues to which Scripture is equivocal (not clear), disciples engage in ethical reflection with the assistance of other godly people, seeking wisdom from Scripture. This is the way of a disciple of Jesus. Organizations whose stakeholders live like Jesus will bear enduring fruit for the glory of God. This is true success.