The Moral Trap


When the Supreme Court made its ruling on gay marriage Friday morning, many Christians decided it was the final straw in the moral collapse of our country.

Gays can now legally marry in all 50 states. Whether one agrees with the ruling or not, Friday’s court ruling will most certainly have a deep impact on our nation. Some fear it will open the door for persecution on Christians and others who disagree with the gay lifestyle.

Immediately after the decision, politicians began pondering ways to circumvent the decision. Preachers pounded the pulpit denouncing the ruling and how churches must “rise and fight” the moral decay of our society.

But could we be falling into a deadly trap that could cost many Christians their spiritual lives? Have we abandoned our spiritual warfare only to begin fighting moral battles?

In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the law were the ones who fought to keep Israel’s “moral compass” pointed in the right direction. They were the religious leaders of the day who, rightfully so, were extremely concerned about the moral failings of the Jewish people and the impact it would have on Israel. These leaders were so concerned that they invented laws on top of laws to keep people from breaking The Law, or the moral code.

When Jesus began his ministry, however, he opened a new challenge. It was one that would cost him his life, yet provide us with a new life. Christ continually showed the religious and moral leaders of the day that they could not keep the law. No matter how much effort one put into it, the moral code just could not be kept. In the sermon on the mount, Christ racked up example after example including how while a person could keep themselves from committing physical adultery, they had already committed adultery by just thinking about it.

Overcoming the world can not be kept by the moral code. It can only be accomplished by living the spiritual life.

The Jewish leaders saw this as an immediate threat. They were convinced Christ was declaring morality “dead.” After all, if one can’t live the moral code then why even bother trying to be moral?  But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus’ wasn’t saying to abandon the moral. He was introducing the nuclear option; the only weapon that would win the battles of the moral life. His teaching and purpose was to provide us with a new life with a spiritual arsenal the gates of hell could not even stand against. It is a life not built on a moral code but one that reveals morality through a spiritual life.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

John states that the law came through Moses. However, grace and truth came from Jesus Christ. In other words, while we can’t live the moral code through our efforts, Jesus gives us the power (grace) to live that life. He didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. How? Through the Holy Spirit. The same spirit that lived in our master is the same spirit that lives in us. He has the same purpose; to shape us into the image of Christ. To perfect us like the Father is perfect.

Living the life of the Spirit allows us to overcome the immoral nature and live the purposes the law was trying to impart. The religious leaders of the day just could not grasp the concept. I’m afraid many of our church leaders have fallen into the same trap.

It is very tempting to fight moral battles. However, as Christians we need to realize that in doing so we become like the Pharisees looking for a law to keep us pointed “upward.”  Instead, we are called to live the spiritual life. The moral life does not produce the spiritual. It is only the spiritual life that produces the moral. Standing up for what is moral is good. However, it is not how we defeat the “evil one.” Our battle is against spiritual darkness, powers and principalities. They can only be defeated in the spiritual realm. The sooner we turn our life to the Spirit, the sooner we will overcome the moral failings in life.

The answer to what is happening around us is not in more laws, bills or pounding on the pulpit. It is simply surrendering our life so we can be shaped into disciples who produce moral and spiritually rich lives through the Spirit.

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