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Playing with Fire

January 12, 2017

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

No doubt you’ve noticed that people around you are not into absolute truth these days. When it comes to matters of morality, the prevailing philosophy is a multiple-choice view, with competing thoughts and perspectives on what is right and wrong listed as A, B, C, or D. And although these perspectives are often contradictory, prevailing pop philosophers today have added choice E: “all of the above.”

While many people are comfortable with such ambiguity in their personal choices, very few would want their material world to be this arbitrary. Everyone affirms that there are some basic, absolute physical laws that govern our experience and shape our behavior. Take, for example, the reality of heat and fire. I first learned about this when playing in my Dad’s car as a 5-year-old.

I was mesmerized by one particular feature in this new car—the cigarette lighter. I can remember not only discovering the lighter, but pushing it into the socket. I was enamored by the glow of the red circles on the lighter when it popped out. But I pushed my curiosity a little too far when I pulled the glowing lighter out and pressed it on the tip of my index finger. I still can’t explain exactly why I did this, but I quickly realized that it was not a smart idea!

In that moment I discovered that the physical laws governing heat and fire are not arbitrary. The circular lines branded on my finger were powerful evidence to convince me that fire burns and that I needed to keep a healthy distance. Understanding the absolute nature of gravity, mathematics, blood pressure, and other physical realities is essential for living life safely and successfully.

But isn’t it interesting that even though we all believe it is important to respect and submit to physical laws, many of us now believe that moral laws are up for grabs! Unfortunately, believing and living by that philosophy inevitably leads to disastrous consequences.

And the most dangerous outcome of all relates to our eternal destiny. If we live in a morally multiple-choice world where nothing is always wrong and nothing is always right, then there is no sin. No sin means no need for a Savior. If there’s no need for a Savior, there’s no point in the cross. The empty tomb means nothing, and there is neither hell to be shunned nor heaven to be gained. Our Bible becomes at best irrelevant and at worst the scheming work of ancient men designed to oppress and deny us the privilege of pleasure. Yet God has made it clear—some things are right and some things are wrong. There is sin, and we need a Savior. There is a hell to be shunned and a heaven to be gained. To ignore the reality of moral absolutes is to play with a fire that you don’t recover from.

In fact, it isn’t just eternal consequences that should concern us but the impact on life as well. The breakup of homes, the increasing violence on our streets, the alarming rise of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS, and the general unraveling of a sane and safe environment all testify to the destructive impact of ignoring God’s laws.

Thankfully, God is not a multiple-choice God. Jesus came to assure us that there is truth and that if we know and live in the realm of His truth we are truly free! Free from the inevitable consequences that come when we live to do whatever we want to do.

No wonder the psalmist wrote that those who delight in the law of God are “like a tree planted by streams of water,” and that those who scoff at the truth are “like chaff that the wind blows away” (Psalm 1:1-41).

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Why do you think that people are willing to accept the absolute nature of physical laws, yet willing to deny the absolute nature of God’s moral laws?
  • How have you seen multiple-choice thinking in action around you? What have been the consequences?
  • Has multiple-choice thinking, even in small ways, begun to infect your life? What specific steps can you take to joyfully live in the truth today? Make a specific plan.
  • Read Psalm 1:1-41 and reflect on which category describes your life—a watered tree or worthless chaff?
  • What would it take for you to “delight” in God’s law?