December 15, 2008

Can morality be a bad thing?

Morality does not prove nor disprove the legitimacy of one's conversion:

Among the unregenerate: there is godless morality and godless immorality.
Among the saved: there is godless morality and godless immorality.

Ask anyone, even most Christian's, "Why should one obey God? Why should one be "good"? Ask yourself the same question. I fear many are religious legalists; some because of ignorance--others because of pride. I found the following statements to be tremendously helpful when sorting this out from God's perspective:

The legalist is always a very moral person. In fact, the majority of moral people are legalists because their so-called Judeo-Christian morality inherited from their forefathers does not grow out of a humble, contrite reliance on the merciful enabling of God. On the contrary, for the legalist, morality serves the same function that immorality does for the antinomian, the free-thinker, the progressive, namely, it serves as an expression of self-reliance and self-assertion.

The reason some Pharisees tithed and fasted is the same reason some German university students take off their clothes and lie around naked in the park in downtown Munich.
The moral legalist is always the elder brother of the immoral prodigal. They are blood brothers in God's sight because both reject the sovereign mercy of God in Christ as a means to righteousness and use either morality or immorality as a means of expressing their independence and self-sufficiency and self-determination.

It is clear from the NT that both will result in a tragic loss of eternal life. So the first meaning of legalism is the terrible mistake of treating biblical standards of conduct as regulations to be kept by our own power in order to earn God's favor. It is a danger we must guard against in our own hearts every day. And please know that my old self is just as prone to it as anyone.
John Piper

The believer, whom grace teaches to deny all ungodliness, fights against sin because it dishonours God, opposes Christ, grieves the Spirit, and separates between his Lord and him.

The legalist fights against sin, because it breaks his peace, and troubles his conscience, and hurts him, by bringing wrath and judgment on him. As children will not play in the dust, not because it sullies their clothes, but flies into their eyes, and hurts them, so the legalist will not meddle with sin, not because it sullies the perfections of God, and defiles their souls, but only because it hurts them.

I deny not, but there is too much of this legal temper even amongst the godly. They differ in their motives and ends.

The believer will not serve sin, because he is alive to God, and dead to sin.
The legalist forsakes sin, not because he is alive, but that he may live.

The believer mortifies sin, because God loves him.
The legalist, mortifies sin so that God may love him.

The believer mortifies, because God is pacified towards him.
The legalist mortifies, that he may pacify God by his mortification. He may go a great length, but it is still that he may have whereof to glory, making his own doing all the foundation of his hope and comfort. Ralph Erksine

So, can morality be a bad thing? Not from a temporal perspective. Temporally, morality hurts no one, in fact it benefits mankind greatly. But, if you think yourself a Christian and are a legalistic moralist, your morality may be a very bad thing when you find yourself standing face-to-face with the Lord on judgement day.

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