“What’s right?”

by Steven Chan

Our society is increasingly becoming devoid of moral direction.  Corruption is reportedly rampant. Sexual immorality abounds. Criminal activities continue to rise. Investment scams continue to cause financial ruins and hardships to those who became their victims.  Politicians contend that we need more laws and/or better enforcement of laws. What does the Bible say about these social ills?

The Bible answer is that the underlying cause of this problem is the denial of the existence of God. The denial of the existence of God caused these people to “become vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom 1:21-22).

So, they engage in “the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness” (Rom 1:24); and devote themselves “unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness,” (Rom 1:26-27)

Rom 1:28 -32: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, (their thinking reflects that of) a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

God is the source of morality. If one denies the existence of a moral God, it would not be possible for one to successfully defend any action as being “right” or otherwise. If one rejects the existence of God, then who has the authority to determine what is right or wrong? Perhaps that is determined by the king or ruler or governing authority as in Judges 17:6: the Bible noted that “in those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” But in modern day democracy the people can always replace the governing authority with one after their own hearts.  This is actually being played out in the USA where the choice is between a Presidential candidate that is pro-life and one that is pro-abortion.

Similarly, the Bible warned believers that a time will come when “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”(2 Tim 4:3-4). So, those who want to murder their unborn babies for whatever reasons will accumulate teachers who will justify their actions. Similarly those who are itching to divorce their wives for reasons other than adultery will accumulate for themselves teachers who will teach that it is alright to do so, to suit their passions. They will even quote the Bible to support their teachings. The Bible warns in Gal 1:8: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

God warned the Israelites that they should not follow after their own preferences: Num 15:39-40: “and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of Jehovah, and do them; and that ye follow not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to play the harlot; 40 that ye may remember and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.” God warned in Prov 14:12: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The sad and tragic thing is that it is often very difficult to persuade people to see the truth and to walk in the truth.

I beg permission to share my personal experience. As my expertise is in the financial sector, people often asked me for my opinion about various investment schemes that their friends and loved ones introduce to them.  After listening to the details of a particular scheme which involved so-called investment in gold, and understanding how the scheme works, it was my opinion that the scheme was effectively a Ponzi scheme.  The senior salespeople could not provide satisfactory answers to my questions.  Thereafter I explained the scheme to those who asked me, and advised them not to touch it.

Notwithstanding my warning, some still went into the scheme and then reported to me that they got huge returns from the investment scheme – and so, they implied that I was wrong! I painstakingly explained to them how a Ponzi scheme may initially indeed give good returns but the problem is that the scheme was merely taking money from the “later investors” and giving some of that to the “earlier investors”. The scheme has no real source of revenue other than being a conduit to collect money and re-distribute some of that money to various other “investors”.  So the scheme will collapse the moment it runs out of cash – and that will inevitably happen in due time when there are more “investors” asking their cash back than the cash being collected. The Madoff Ponzi scheme went on for more than a decade before it finally collapsed. When a Ponzi scheme falls, great will be its fall!

Our hearts go out to those who have lost most or all their hard-earned money in such schemes.  For those who chose to disregard the advice given to them, indeed “the last state is become worse with them than the first. For it were better for them not to have known the (truth about the scheme), than, after knowing it, to turn back from the (advice) delivered unto them” (adapting from 2 Pet 2:20-21).

So, it is with those who reject the existence of God in spite of all the evidence that God has given to us: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Rom 1:19-20, ESV).  At the present time, they think they can do whatever they want as there is no immediate reaction from God such as “striking one dead” (unlike the case with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5).

God has stated that while there’s yet time, He is giving us time to repent: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31).  The Bible warns in 2 Pet 3:8-15: “But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, 12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in his sight. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation;”

What is right or wrong can only be determined by the One who made us with the moral sense of what’s right or wrong.  If one rejects the existence of God, lawlessness and immorality will prevail. We need to choose our partners for life carefully. If the one we chose does not fear or respect God, then we will have a real challenge for the rest of our lives (2 Cor 6:14-18).