Ethics are a system of moral principles, by which human actions and proposals may be judged good or bad, or right or wrong and are the rules of conduct recognized in respect of a particular class of human actions, including decent principles of an individual.
THE BIBLE addresses some of the discipline that deals with questions, such as: How should a person act?† What to do that is good and right? What is good? The Bible sets its own agenda as it highlights the foundations of all ethics and Godís standard for human behaviour. Scripture is the final authority in ethical matters. The moral and ethical directions of the Bible are no less personal in their subject, for they are addressed to individuals who must decide.
The Biblical definition of Ethics is connected with doctrine and they are not offered apart from the set of guidelines and teachings of the Bible. What God is in His character, what He wills in His revelation, describe what is right, good, is ethical for all situations and circumstances. The Bible had a decisive influence in forming of educated ethics in basic western culture. The Bible maintains that mortals made in the image of God, therefore His integrity is a good guide.
The closest term in the Old Testament for ethics, virtue or standard is discipline, teaching the way or path of the good and the right. The Greek term in the New Testament is way of life, life-style, guidance, tradition, manner of life, or practice of behaviour
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are concerned about the manner of life people should live and the Scripture prescribes and approves of what is good and what is not. Scripture presents in depth direction concerning conduct of believers, as well as models of individuals whose lives illustrate both helpful and harmful aspects of behaviour.
Living righteously according to Godís revealed truth on the issues is the responsibility of believers in families, in governmental positions, all civic leadership roles, in the media, in the justice system, in sexual behaviour, in sportsmanship, in rewarding and punishing individuals.
There are Personal Ethics that call for individuals to have accountability before God for their conduct. This includes the importance of thoughts and attitudes, obedience and honouring Godís name. Personal ethics incorporate human relationships, children and parents, the extended family of relatives, employees and employers.
Social Ethics are to do with society and the community as a whole, including submitting to those in authority, paying taxes, promoting justice, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, protecting the vulnerable, being peaceful and not objection able in the community, and helping with both the local and natural environment.
CHRISTIAN ETHICS is the study of good behaviour, motivation, and attitude in light of Jesus Christ and biblical revelation. The ultimate standard of Christian conduct is Christ Himself. The goal of a Christian in their thinking and in their behaviour is to be come more and more like Christ.
Following the claims made by the Books of the Bible, the message is a contribution to the ongoing and continuous account about the character and will of God and the description about the nature and will of God is the proper basis for answering any ethical questions. The reality is determined on the basis Biblical assessment.
Godís commandments are always given to those who are already His people because of His Grace. Godís demands and His Grace means that Biblical Ethics should be comprehended in the terms of what He has done for His people. Grace precedes the Law, just as Doctrine precedes ethics.
Correct behaviour is the product of Godís Grace and the right response from those who have knowledge and experience of it.
A moral-living individual may be able to rest their decision on the ethical content of the biblical text from a past age. The Bible's moral statements were meant to be applied to classes of peoples, times, and conditions. Scripture's teaching has a consistency about it so that it presents a common front to the same questions in all its parts and to all cultures past and present. The Bible purposes to direct our actions and behaviour when it makes a demand. In short the Bible can be applied to all people. The Bible is consistent. The Bible seeks to command certain moral behaviour.
Every biblical command, whichever book it appeared in was originally directed to someone for an exact purpose, in some place, in some specific situation. Behind each of these definite rulings can be found a widespread principle. From the general principle a person in a different setting can use the Bible to gain direction in a precise decision.
Our problems, our culture, and our societal patterns are not so different from that of Scripture. Scripture intended to do more than offer information; it is also designed to direct behaviour. A person with ethics would stand by their principle for all such similar situations regardless of times or culture.
Essential Descriptions of Biblical Ethics-Their Values and Duties-
Biblical morality is directly connected with spiritual faith. Biblical ethics are personal and social. The position of good codes is the person, character, and declaration of an absolutely holy God. As a result, individuals are urged to be set apart for God.† The moral and ethical commands of the Bible are no less personal in their subject, for they are addressed to individuals who must decide to follow Godís decrees and are careful to obey His commands and to think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy and put into practice.
The ethics of the Bible focus on God. To know God is to know how to practice righteousness and justice. To a large extent, Biblical Ethics are deeply concerned with the internal response to morality rather than mere outward acts.
Scripture's ethical motivation is found in a future orientation. The belief in a future resurrection of the body was reason enough to pause before concluding that each act was limited to the situation in which it occurred and bore no consequences for the future.
The attribute of Biblical Ethics is that they are universal. They embrace the same standard of righteousness for every nation and person on earth.† The Living God revealed in Scripture set the standard for all peoples, nations, and times.
It is God's character that gives wholeness, harmony, and consistency to the morality of the Bible. What God required was what He Himself was and is. The heart of every moral command was this theme. The character and nature of the holy God found ethical expression in the will and word of God. These words could be divided into moral law and certain constructive law.
Moral law expressed Godís character. The major example in the Old Testament is the Ten Commandments. Certain rulings bound men and women for a limited time period because of the authority of the One who spoke them. A study of biblical ethics helps us distinguish between the valid moral laws and the temporary command of productive positive laws.
The ethical laws of The Bible are permanent, universal, and equally binding on all men and women in all times. These laws are best found in the writings of Moses. A few observations can help in interpreting these Ten Commandments. (See The Ten Commanments)
The ethics of The Bible are for the people of God. Ethics are a response to grace in love not a response to demand in fear or superstition. All moral law is double-sided, leading to a positive act and away from a negative one. †Refraining from doing a forbidden thing is not a moral act. Biblical ethics call for optimistic participation in life.
Bible Ethics include right relations with God, right relations with time, right relations with society, sanctity of the family, sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage and sex, sanctity of property, sanctity of truth and sanctity of motives.
Godliness sets forth the holiness of God as the central attribute in the whole character of God by which all ethical judgments are to be made. Holiness is the mark of His uniqueness and moral otherness from His creatures.
Biblical Ethics are based on the complete revelation of the Bible. The Sermon on the Mount spoken by Jesus is as the foundational texts of the Bible's teaching in the ethical and moral realm. Jesus covers the topics of murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, justice, love of enemies, giving to the needy, prayer, sincerity with God and society, worries, treasures in heaven, judging others, and doing unto others what you would have them do unto you.
The ethical teachings of Jesus sum up the true meaning of The Old Testament Law. He teaching fulfils the Law. Jesus taught love as the fundamental nature of Christian Ethics. Love God and your neighbour. Love is best expressed through service and self-giving.
All other biblical texts contribute to the knowledge of Biblical Ethics. Several examples of the content of Biblical morality and principals may help to better understand how the character of God, especially of His holiness, sets the custom for all moral decision-making. They are values and duties.
Honour or respect for one's parents is one of the first applications of what holiness entailed.
Husband and wife are to be equals before God. The wife was not a mere possession, chattel, or solely a child-bearer. She is not only from the Lord and her husband's crown, but she also was a power equal to him.† Human sexuality is a gift from God. It is not a disgrace, nor an invention of the devil. It was made for the marriage relationship and meant for enjoyment, not just procreation. Fornication is forbidden. Sexual deviant acts, such as homosexuality or bestiality are repulsive to the holiness of God and condemned.
Commands of ethics about property, wealth, possessions, and concern for the truth, set novel customs. These rules are against the universal human tendency for greed, for ranking things above persons, and for preferring the lie as an alternative to the truth.
The motives and intentions of the heart is the very issue. This is why holiness is in the ethical realm.†††
The New Testament, like the Old, included social ethics as part of its teaching. Since God's kingdom was at work in the world, it was necessary that salt and light also be present as well in faithful living. While both Testaments share the same stance on issues such as marriage and divorce, the New often explicitly adopted different sanctions. Church discipline was recommended.
The main difference between the two Testaments is that the New Testament sets forth Jesus as the new Example of uncompromising obedience to the will and law of God. He came not to abolish the Old, but to fulfil it. The New Testament is full up with exhortations to live by the words and to walk in the way set forth by Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. Christians are called to leave their old worldly conduct and walk in the newness of a spirit-filled, God conscience life producing fruit of The Spirit.
Godís ethical decrees makes true worship possible, His fellowship, His blessing and future reward. Unethical behaviour renders worship unacceptable and he withdrawal of Godís fellowship and brings Godís judgement.
The substance of Biblical Ethics is not only personal, but it is wide-ranging in duties; toward one's neighbours, respect for the civil government, and its tasks, the spiritual significance to work, the stewardship of possessions and wealth, and much more to do with the ideal human character, that is to imitate Godís nature. The world will be affected for good if Biblical Ethics are abided by.
Scriptures: Lev. 26:3, Phil. 4:8-9, Jeremiah 22:15-16, Leviticus 18:4,5,6.
Questions: 1] Are ethical commands addressed to individuals? 2] What things are to be dwelt on for Godís peace? 3] How does a person get to know God and His will? 4] Why is holiness part of the ethical realm?
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