Friday, January 20, 2023

Truth and Ethics (1 Timothy 4)

"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them" (1 Tim. 4:16).

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he exhorts him to continue to instruct the people according to good doctrine and principles. Paul tells Timothy to be diligent in this responsibility because his actions would have eternal consequences: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16). This exhortation by Paul reveals the inseparable connection between what you believe and how you act.

If you want to have a right system of ethics and reflect the image of Christ in your life, you must have a foundation in truth. Our culture’s ethical framework is crumbling is because it has abandoned the foundation of truth about God and human nature. Our society believes humans were not created, but evolved. We, therefore, have no standard outside of ourselves by which we must function. Our rejection of God has culminated in the rejection of an absolute moral and ethical code. When absolutes are cast aside, relativism fills the gap. Whatever is right for me may be wrong for you. Relativism leads to chaos. We cannot live peaceably with one another when each individual decides at a given moment what is right and wrong. Eventually our individual systems of ethics will collide. Such a collision quickly topples order in society because a solid foundation of absolute truth has been removed.

Rejecting the truth about God and humanity undermines the very foundations of society. We could recount numerous examples of this fleshed out in our culture, but sadly we find evidence of this in our churches as well. People don’t want to know sound doctrine, but they generally want to grow in godliness. They want to behave the right way, but they do not think the right way about God or themselves. Such wrong thinking will lead to empty moralism or ungodly behavior. For example, if you do not believe humans are totally depraved, you will raise your children with a different, and erroneous, ethical framework than someone who does. Right living and good doctrine are inseparable. If you persevere in both, the blessings will affect you, your family, the church, and the society in which you live.

How should the doctrine of God’s holiness shape your behavior? How should the doctrine of God as sovereign ruler over your life determine your relationship to the state? How should the doctrine of sin affect how you raise your children? Throughout the day think about how truth shapes the decisions you make and how you act.