Re-examine the meaning of right, wrong

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ight and wrong. Simple ideas that we all understand, right? Our parents and teachers tried to explain it to us. The legislature and courts try to define and enforce it. Reason and philosophy try and make sense of it. However, when was the last time you really thought about what is right and wrong?

I am not concerned about trivial matters such as the right way to use the toothpaste tube - flattened or rolled. Or whether the toilet paper should be mounted to roll over, or to roll under. I am talking about the right and wrong that concerns God, a much more serious issue; to be wrong about God has eternal consequences. Being right about the things of God makes life worthwhile, full of joy and fruitfulness.

So, what does being right mean?

Being right starts by being in agreement with God. Existentialists argue that individuals define themselves through action. This humanistic approach puts man in control, not only of his destiny, but of his very existence. Ren Descartes, the "Father of Modern Philosophy" said, "Je pense donc je suis" which is French for "I think, therefore I am." Such self-evident propositions are not only man-centered, but push God to the fringes of man's life. The Bible is clear about God's position in all things. He is first and foremost: "In the beginning, God …" Genesis 1:1, and, "I am the first and the last." Revelation 22:13. It is written in Isaiah 45:11-12, "Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel … "It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands, And I ordained all their host." The Bible is clear about how we are to think about ourselves and about God. Everything began with God, He created all things, He is God and man is not. God alone is right. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:15 (with a bit of historical irony), "Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you."

God gave us the Bible for this very reason. So that His truth would be revealed to us, today. God calls His truth "law." It is the Hebrew word, torah. A better translation of the word would be instruction. You can find this word in the Bible over 365 times. (That gives new meaning to the thought of daily Bible study.) Indeed, you would do well to consider the whole Bible as God's instructions to us.

I like the acronym B.I.B.L.E. for "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth."

Being right starts with agreeing with all of what God has said. Agreeing and believing, however, are two different things. The Bible calls us to believe with all our heart. "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, And upon their mind I will write them," Hebrews 10:16. Ancient believers understood that believing the instructions of God was a multifaceted process: reading the text with a listening ear and interpreting the text with an attentive mind, reflecting on the message of the text and its meaning for today, praying from the heart which flows from reading and reflecting on the text, conversing about the Bible and forming a community of faith, witnessing to God's word in the context of daily life and making a difference in the world.

A life lived out in faith brings us to a knowledge and understanding of what it means to be "right." Such knowledge is an intimate and personal relationship with God. Only in this type of relationship with God will we ever be right.

It has been said that knowledge is power. The apostle John would agree in this way: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" John 1:12-13.

So what does being right mean? It means agreeing with what the Bible says about God and about ourselves. It means believing God's word by living according to His instructions. It means having a personal relationship with God through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Are you right?

The Rev. Neil L'Hommedieu is pastor of Blue Mountain Baptist Church. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312 or by email at catherinehicks@wwub.com


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