Updated: Oct 16
One lesson we can learn from the last decade of American history is that spiritual warfare is real. The kingdom of God and the realm of the devil fight not just for individuals, but also for society and culture. Perhaps you have noticed the attitude toward Christianity and the Bible changing from neutral to hostile. Part of this hostility is that philosophies like atheism and secularism define themselves by what they oppose. Specifically, they are against God and His rule. However, to be defined by what you oppose is a disadvantage. That’s why “pro-choice” is not called “anti-baby.” “Pro-choice” sounds positive. Generally, it’s much easier to put your opponent on the defensive by branding his position in the negative.
But unbelievers have a problem. Even if they don’t want to believe in God, He is unchangeably the final standard of right and wrong. The Lord, the Author of our existence, defines morality, and no one can avoid it. His standard is built into the design of the universe and the DNA of humans. Right and wrong are impossible to ignore. We are designed to make moral judgments. When we violate God’s standards of right and wrong, we experience the moral judgment of guilt. According to Romans 2:14, even those who do not have access to God’s written law “show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.”
Because God is real, and His world is a moral world, resisting the internal conscience and the external witness of God’s law in a culture influenced by Scripture requires those who reject God to redefine the world so that God, and those who stand with Him, are not just incorrect, but also immoral. This is why the abortion issue is reframed so that Christians who advocate for saving the unborn child are “opponents of reproductive freedom” who “oppress women.” This is why urging homosexuals to repent is labeled hate speech, opposing homosexual “marriage” is called oppressive, and upholding God’s design for gender is “violence against trans people.” Unbelievers, in turn, support “women’s health care” or “love without borders” or “helping children feel at home in their bodies.” The individuals responsible for aggressive anti-God policy positions use noble-sounding policy terms to shift the guilt for their sin onto others.
Many times shifting guilt onto others is the motivation for accusing Christians of hypocrisy, or even accusing those who publicly represent traditional Christian principles. The target is not the person, but the Bible that supports the principles. Those who hate God are aware of the high standards of Scripture, and they wield those standards to make believers feel guilt (whether rightly or wrongly) and discredit them to the public.
Unbelievers even use Scriptural standards to attack the moral character of God Himself. If you have ever heard an atheist accuse God of genocide for ordering Israel to destroy nations in the Promised Land, or question God’s character because there is evil in the world, or reference the Crusades or the Inquisition as evidence Christianity is evil, you have observed this tactic firsthand. The ultimate goal is moral superiority. The purpose is to make God & His standards bad so His enemies look good by comparison.
This lie of moral superiority is just that: it is untrue and a sham. One evidence is that these charges—God is evil, the Bible is oppressive, and Christians are immoral—are not honest. The same individuals who denounce gospel evangelism have their own message to proclaim and promote. Those who vilify faithful Christian parenting promote their own form of educational indoctrination. Those who oppose Biblical laws have no problem promoting their own secular policy agendas, even to the point of mandating that using certain words is criminal. In many cases, they do not oppose moral or cultural authority, but simply want to control who is able to wield it.
The second evidence that moral superiority is a lie is that God refuted this tactic thousands of years ago in His Word. Consider Proverbs 17:15: “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.” Isaiah spoke to a similar group of people in Isaiah 5:20-23:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: which justify the wicked for reward and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
As the Lord reveals His character in Scripture, sinners are exposed. Deuteronomy 32:4-5: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.” When Job speculated if God was truly righteous and requested a civil trial to plead his case, God asked him a probing question: “Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous (Job 40:8)?” In God’s light, the flaws and sins of His creatures are revealed. It makes sense, then, that rebellious humans “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). A sinner committed to evil prefers darkness; in fact, he “hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:20).
The third evidence that moral superiority is a lie is that those who would set themselves up as morally superior must borrow from God’s standards to pronounce moral condemnation. This is a self-defeating proposition, since the Bible they reject, and the God they oppose, provides the moral basis for coherent moral judgment. Remove God, and anything is acceptable. Additionally, when believers behave hypocritically or otherwise sinfully, which often happens, we are convicted of our wrongdoing by the same Scripture we believe. A sinning believer is acting contrary to the commands of Scripture and the grace of God. However, if the Bible were unreliable and God did not exist, there would be no moral authority to justly accuse anyone of objective sin. Simply put, since God is who He says He is, His antagonists are in a false position. If God is not who He says He is, His opponents have no objective way of distinguishing right from wrong.
How are believers to respond, then, to unbelieving antagonists? God has not revealed Himself so His people could become internet warriors. Rather, at least two proper implications come from the principle of moral superiority. First, whenever we encounter a situation where the Lord, Scripture, Biblical doctrine, or Bible-based principles are challenged, we should pause to consider whether or not the challenge is honestly presented. Sometimes the best response to an attack is to answer it. Sometimes, however, the best response is ignore it, or laugh at it, call it ridiculous, and move on (Proverbs 26:4-5). Most certainly believers should not apologize or soften clear truth from Scripture, nor should we be intimidated by the false arguments of moral superiority. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). Second, lost individuals who are not actively antagonistic to the Lord or Scripture could be deceived by the tactic of moral superiority and believe the lie. We should not think of individuals with blinded eyes as the enemy, but as captives who need compassion and truth. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says that unbelievers with blinded eyes are under the influence of the devil. To those people we ought to make the truth as clear as possible, allowing God’s Word to appeal to their conscience (2 Corinthians 4:2). We are not morally superior to the lost; we are simply recipients of the greatest gift imaginable: the grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The above article was written by Jonathan Kyser. He is a pastoral assistant of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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