Firm Foundations Five (47 of 55) What Is Christian Ethics?

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What Is Christian Ethics?

Christian ethics is the idea that a believer’s behavior should be governed by the truths and principles found in the Bible. Our new manner of living is only made possible through the power of the gospel and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Even though the Bible does not cover every situation in detail, we are to trust it as our standard for making the right decisions in all situations.
Colossians 3:1–6; John 14:26; 1 John 2:27

The Meaning Of Christian Ethics

  • Ethics are the principles of obligation that govern a person’s, group’s, or society’s behavior. For believers, the principles of obligation are based on the moral principles found in the Bible. Morals indicate what is right or wrong and what is good or bad. These morals should be derived from the Bible and not based on what a person, group, or society finds acceptable or unacceptable.
  • Ethics are based on the Bible because God is the source of all things good and because we live in a sinful world. Therefore, we cannot base our understanding of right and wrong on what the majority of people think is normal or abnormal. We are called to be different from the world, which will result in us having different understandings of morality.
  • Christian ethics are the moral principles of obligation found in the Bible that govern a believer’s behavior. As we live our lives, we should constantly depend on the Bible as our standard for guiding our decision making process.

The Confusion In Christian Ethics

  • When a believer makes decisions he can look to the Bible to help guide him. The Bible presents certain things as being right or as being wrong. It is black and white. Everyone has the same obligation to these areas. Some things in the Bible are neutral. They are grey. Everyone doesn’t have the same obligation to these areas. It is okay for some people and it is wrong for others, depending on if it violates other clear teaching.
  • The Bible doesn’t explain what a believer should do in every circumstance. Therefore, when confronting an issue in society this can cause confusion or disunity among believers. We must remember that the Bible allows each believer to be fully persuaded in his own mind. This means that through Bible study, applying biblical principles, and asking for spiritual counsel from godly leadership, each believer has the right to make his own decision to the best of their ability.
  • Christian ethics is more than figuring out what is right and wrong so that you can live a good life. It is understanding what is right so that you know what pleases God and displeases Him. Our motives in obeying are just as important as obeying. God is concerned with the action and the motive.
  • When a believer applies Christian ethics to his life and makes a decision that isn’t black or white, he has to be careful not to force that decision on others as if it were black or white. Areas that are neutral can become traditions that we judge others by. We must be careful not to judge other Christians with our traditions or with things that are not the clear will of God.
    Matthew 15:3

The Application of Christian Ethics (Biblical Principles)

  • The Principle of Doctrine: As believers, we are to hold fast to all clear teachings of the Bible. If we know to do good and right, but don’t do it, it is sin. Also, we don’t want to just obey the exact wording of a rule but also the spirit behind it. Question: Am I doing right in light of the clear teachings of the Bible?
    James 4:17
  • The Principle of Motive: As believers, we are to have the right motives in everything that we do, chiefly that of glorifying God. Question: Am I desiring to glorify God though this?
    1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31
  • The Principle of Body: As believers, our bodies are the Lord’s. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. Question: Am I going to defile my body through sexual sins, harmful substances, or neglecting healthy habits?
    1 Corinthians 6:13–19
  • The Principle of Separation: As believers, we are called to be different from unbelievers, and not have fellowship with those who are involved in evil works. Question: Am I abstaining from evil or the appearance of evil?
    2 Corinthians 6:14–18; Ephesians 5:11–12; 1 Thessalonians 5:22
  • The Principle of Others: As believers, we are not to offend others, make them weak, or cause them to stumble. We should seek the profit of others more than the profit of ourselves. Question: Am I making decisions that will build others up or tear them down?
    Romans 14:19, 21; 15:1–3; 1 Corinthians 10:24; 10:32–33
  • The Principle of Addiction: As believers, we should never do something that could take control of our lives and cause us to sin. Question: Am I allowing things to control me or could it control me?
    1 Corinthians 6:12
  • The Principle of Conscience: As believers, if we believe something to be wrong then we shouldn’t do it. If we learn that it isn’t wrong, we can do it by faith. Question: Am I violating my conscience by doing this?
    Romans 14:20, 22–23; Romans 14:5; 1 Corinthians 10:25, 31
  • The Principle of Authority: As believers, we are to be subject to the authorities in our lives, recognizing they are ordained of God. Question: Am I unjustly going against the authority in my life?
    Romans 13:1
  • The Principle of Self: As believers, we should be growing in the Lord and do things to edify us spiritually. Our actions have consequences and we need to consider their implications. Question: Am I going to be edified through this?

Review Questions

  • What are Christian ethics?
  • What are Christian ethics based on?
  • God is concerned with what two parts?
  • We have to be careful not to do what?
  • What are the nine principles that can help you make decisions?

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