What is the standard for good and evil?
“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”
- Nahum 1:7
I anxiously sat in the classroom, waiting for my teacher to issue the final exam.
Like many of my classmates, I had deliberately and enthusiastically prepared for this college test. I had high hopes for my performance. Any grade above a 90 would provide me with an "A" for the exam and anything below, of course, would lend a B, C, D, or F. Like many finals I had taken in college and high school, I knew what grade I had to get if I wanted to earn the report card I sought.
How could I know this? Because the school had set a standard. If you earn a 90 or above, you’ll receive an A. If you get an 89 or below, you’ll receive another grade. Grades are based on standards.
Like the classroom, life is full of standards. A speed limit sets a standard. Go above it, you risk receiving a speeding ticket or the likelihood of an accident. Your job has standards – be at work at this time and do these projects, etc. If not, you risk losing your job. At many stores, you’ll see a sign stating, “No shoes. No shirt. No service.” They’ve set a standard for whom they will and will not serve.
So when it comes to moral behavior, who sets the standard for what’s good and evil? And what is the standard based on?
To some, the standard for moral behavior is left to each individual or society to determine. This idea is called “Moral Relativism,” and it’s becoming more prevalent in American culture. But does moral relativism conform to reality? Absolutely not. God is very clear on this point. Both the Old Testament (Ex 33:19; Je 2:13; Ps 19:7-11, etc.) and New Testament (Lk 18:19; Ac 10:38, 42-43, etc.) assert that God’s character and law are the standards for good and that which opposes God’s character and law are the standards for evil.
Consequently, Christians must know and abide by God’s character and law if they are to live righteously and stand against what is evil. Any acceptance of moral relativism in the family, church, or society is ultimately perilous because its subjective and interpretive nature leads to apathy and indifference towards God’s objective unchanging law and character.
If people don’t understand that God has established a universal standard for good and evil, then they'll see no need for the salvation necessary from its failure.
We the Church must stand up for God’s character and live according to His righteous precepts. We must proclaim to the world that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s moral standard but they will have eternal salvation through the good news of Jesus Christ!