Monday, May 22, 2006

Situation Ethics is a Trap (Part 4)

In the last segment, I mentioned Ridenour's comparison of a swamp and a river. Picture in your mind the differences between a stinking, slimy, stagnant swamp and the clean, refreshing, flow of running river water. If you were forced to choose, which one would you rather step into? Which one would be more pleasant to live near?

Of course, that particular choice isn't a difficult one. Most people are automatically repelled by the stench of a swamp and would not choose to enter into or live near one. The fact that a river has borders (restraints) and the swamp has none, (just a lot of confusing turns, twists and dead ends), illustrates quite well the trap that is known as the typical 'situation ethics mentality.'

However, people often fall into the situation ethics 'swamp' and do not see or realize the slavery that has ensnared them. It is only when they experience the Supernatural point of view regarding morality where they can see, then, ultimately understand, what Paul was discussing in Colossians 3:5-9.

As Ridenour shared, sometimes it is difficult to stay out of the 'ethical swamps'. Most of the crowd likes it there. They think that living without "restraints" is freedom. But it isn't. In fact, it is the worst kind of slavery with 'self ' as the master.

Paul talks about "mortifying the flesh" and "deadening evil desires lurking within." Barclay quotes C.F.D. Moule who says the Christian must kill self-centeredness.9

The motive for killing self-centeredness is Jesus Christ. Verses like Galatians 5:16; 1 Peter 2:11; 4:2; James 4:1 make good sense when compared with Matthew 16:24; Romans 8:12-14; Galatians 5:24.

Ridenour states:

So, when Scripture warns against fornication and adultery (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; Matthew 5:27-29) coveting (Exodus 20:17; Jeremiah 6:13), anger (Matthew 5:22), slander (1 Peter 2:1), just to name a few, the purpose is not to saddle Christians with legalistic burdens but to warn them against the quicksand of self-centeredness that can so easily suck you under - into a life of using (and abusing) others, rather than loving them.

There are probably dozens of individual examples that could be given where individuals have been rescued from former bondage to sin through being born again in Jesus Christ. However, one of the most startling evidences of a person becoming a "new man or woman in Christ" has to be formerly homosexual individuals.

In the six years since I became aware of the homosexual propaganda agenda currently being relentlessly forced upon children in public schools, I have also met several individuals who identify as ex-gay. The more that I learned of this group of people, the more I had seen that they are often vilified by homosexual activists just because they have successfully changed and have been released from the bondage of homosexual behavior and identity.

It is truly a sad fact of our society, but formerly gay people are often negatively targeted by gay activists (how ironic that a group who insists on "tolerance" has none for formerly gay people?). Why is it that ex-gays are consistently disparaged, ridiculed, debased, called liars and "fakers;" being told that they "do not exist" by gay advocates? How hurtful is that?

The reasons for this are numerous. It involves the social, political, psychological, and intellectual motives of man. However, Jesus tells us the spiritual motives behind it all and that believers in Him would be especially targeted.

John 7:7 - The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.

1Cr 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

1Cr 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

1Cr 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

1Cr 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1Cr 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

1Cr 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

So, the ex-gays who have repented, turned away from their former behavior and identity and now have a ministry goal to speak out about such change (and the hope that Jesus Christ can offer others trapped in homosexual behavior bondage) are criticized, mocked and told to shut up.


Because the gay activists don't like this new-found freedom that the former members of their community have experienced through Jesus' saving grace. Ex-gays threaten them simply because they have successfully left the "ethical swamp" (where so many others are currently still living) and have entered into the Living Water of freedom that is Life with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!

You could take other "politically correct" hot-button issues (like abortion, promiscuity, porn, drugs, euthanasia, etc.) and see the differences between those who adhere to the 'situational ethical swamp' vs. those who stand on the Living Water of Truth - Jesus Christ.

Mat 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Mat 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Look at what Scripture says regarding the Christian being a new man or new woman. (See Colossians 3:10, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:21-24). Look at how Scripture describes renewal through the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:12; Titus 3:5). Look at how Scripture describes being the possessor of spiritual knowledge (John 7:16,17; 8:31,32). Scripture tells us that once a man be born again he is remade in the image of his Creator - Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:2).

When you read just some of the Scriptures that describe what happens through conversion through Jesus Christ, we see and understand that it is spiritual in nature and not something that can be achieved by man himself!!

There are alcoholics that try and fail to change their behavior. There are people who are hopelessly addicted to porn. There are people who are promiscuous and have had several abortions as their way of birth control.


Let's face it. Much of secular society is in the grip of hedonistic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius once said, "The mind is dyed the color of its habitual thoughts."

Where is your mind? Is it on self or God?

Why choose God over self? Because when a person counts only on themselves (carnality; self-centeredness) and do not have, nor rely on, the power of the Holy Spirit to bring them out of their immoral decision making on through to the other side, they are lost within self-centered oblivion. They are lost! Their souls are not right with God! Colossians 3 tells us not to live carnality, but to live for, in and through Christ!

Colossians 3:2,3
2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Setting our hearts 'on things above' means striving to put heaven's priorities into daily practice. Setting our minds 'on things above' means concentrating on the eternal rather than the temporal. See Philippians 4:9 and Colossians 3:15 for more on Christ's rule in our hearts and minds.

3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

"For you died" means that we should have as little desire for this world as a dead person would have. The Christian's real home is where Christ lives (John 14:2,3). This truth gives us a different perspective on our lives here on earth. To "set you minds on things above" means to look at life from God's perspective and to seek what he desires. This is the antidote to materialism (and self-centeredness); we gain the proper perspective on material goods (and self) when we take God's view of them. The more we regard the world around us as God does, the more we will live in harmony with him. We must not become too attached to what is only temporary.

What does it mean that a believer's life in "hidden with Christ"? Hidden means concealed and safe. This is not only a future hope, but an accomplished fact right now: Our service and conduct do not earn our salvation, but they are results of our salvation. Take heart that your salvation is sure, and live each day for Christ.

God's Word tells us what we need to "put to death."

Colossians 3:5-11

5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

We should consider ourselves dead and unresponsive to sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed. Just like diseased limbs of a tree, these practices must be cut off before they destroy us. We must make a conscious, daily decision to remove anything that supports or feeds these desires and to rely on the Holy Spirit's power.

6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

The "wrath of God" refers to God's judgment on these kinds of behavior, culminating with future and final punishment of evil. When tempted to sin, remember that you must one day stand before God.

8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

We must rid ourselves of all evil practices and immorality. Then we can commit ourselves to what Christ teaches. Paul was appealing to the commitment the believers had made and urging them to remain true to their confession of faith. They were to rid themselves of the old life and "put on" the new way of living given by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit. If you have made such a commitment to Christ, are you remaining true to it?

What does it mean to "put on the new self"? It means that your conduct should match your faith. If you are a Christian, you should act like it. Every Christian is in a continuing education program. The more we know of Christ and his work, the more we are being changed to be like him. Because this process is lifelong, we must never stop learning and obeying. There is not justification for drifting along, but there is an incentive to find the rich treasure of growing in Him. It takes practice, ongoing review, patience, and concentration to keep in line with his will.

God's Word tells us the character of the new man; as the elect of God through the saving grace of Christ Jesus our Lord:

Colossians 3:12-17

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

The key to forgiving others is remembering how much God has forgiven you. Is it difficult for you to forgive someone who has wronged you a little when God has forgiven you so much? Realizing God's infinite love and forgiveness can help you love and forgive others.

14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

All the virtues that Paul encourages us to develop are perfectly bound together by love. As we clothe ourselves with these virtues, the last garment we are to put on is love, which holds all of the others in place. To practice any list of virtues without practicing love will lead to distortions, fragmentation, and stagnation (1 Corinthians 13:3).

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Christians should live in peace. To live in peace does not mean that suddenly all differences in opinion are eliminated, but it does require that loving Christians work together despite their differences. Such love is not a feeling, but a decision to meet others' needs (see 1 Corinthians 13). To live in love leads to peace between individuals and among the members of the body of believers.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Paul offers a strategy to help us live for God day by day:
(1) imitate Christ's compassionate, forgiving attitude (3:12, 13)
(2) let love guide your life (3:14)
(3) let the peace of Christ rule in your heart (3:15)
(4) always be thankful (3:15)
(5) keep God's Word in you at all times (3:16)
(6) live as Jesus Christ's representative (3:17)

And, for those who still believe that they are "O.K. living in the situational ethics swamp," Jesus himself admonishes us in Mark 8:36 -

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? "


As our Creator, Christ knows better than we do what real life is about. He asks for submission, not self-hatred; he asks us only to lose our self-centered determination to be in charge.

Many people spend all their energy seeking pleasure. Jesus said, however, that a world of pleasure centered on possessions, position, or power is ultimately worthless. Whatever you have on earth is only temporary; it cannot be exchanged for your soul. You may spend all of your days working hard and having a "pleasurable" life, but in the end you will find it hollow and empty. Are you ready to take Jesus' admonition seriously and be willing to make the pursuit of God more important than the selfish pursuit of pleasure?

Follow Jesus. Then, you will know what it means to live abundantly now and to have eternal life with Him as well.

9 See The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, William Barclay (philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1958), p. 180.

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