So, I was hanging out with my friends Shane and Shiloh. Eventually, we got to talking with a fourth guy, a neighbor. This neighbor, a really nice guy, was telling us about why he is secular; a good person and why he felt no need to fear God or His justice. Shane, Shiloh and I are Jesus followers. We were trying to get to know and to better understand our neighbor “Sabino” and his thought process. After we listened, asked questions and exchanged thoughts for close to an hour, Shiloh spoke up and began to ask our neighbor Sabino some new questions. As Shiloh spoke I was thinking “Oh, wow, these questions are super.” Shiloh’s logic is excellent.
What Shiloh shared with Sabino was so clear and helpful, I want to share it with you here. If you can find a flaw in his logic, please let me know. If you can’t, please join me in seeking to apply this reasoning to your own life and relationship with God.
- NOBODY IS PERFECT. Okay so here goes. Shiloh asked Sabino if he agreed with the statement “Nobody is perfect.” Sabino agreed (and I agree) that we all mess up and that even on our best days, we humans think and say things that are way less than good. It’s obvious to most everyone that we are all messed up and imperfect in many ways. In fact the late comedian George Carlin once said “The planet isn’t going anywhere folks, we are! Pack your stuff! We’re leaving. And we won’t leave much of a trace. Thank God for that. Nothing left. Maybe a little styrofoam. The planet will be here and we will be gone. Another failed mutation; another closed-end biological mistake.” Carlin, a proud critic of God, was agreeing with Him that humans are deeply broken. Carlin called us a ‘failed mutation’ and a ‘mistake’. Ouch! I am broken. You are too. (Theists also add that while we are very imperfect, we are loved by God, valued by Him and made in the likeness of God and have great dignity and worth – but we digress…)
- EVERYONE BREAKS THE LAW. If it’s true that no one is perfect, Shiloh reasoned that there is an invisible law out there that we all understand and that no one lives up to. Another way of saying this is that we all break the law in one way or another. We sure do. Every one of us.
- If it is true that we all break the Law, that means that THERE IS A BIG HAIRY LAW somewhere out there that we are all violating.
- Consequently, if we all violate the Law that is there, this Law that we are all beholden to, it follows that THERE MUST BE CONSEQUENCES for BREAKING THE LAW.
- Moreover, humans understand that if a Moral Law exists and that there are consequences for violating said Moral Law, then it follows that this Moral Law is beyond Human Law. A DIVINE UNIVERSAL LAW EXISTS and we all know it.
- If this Universal Law exists, then A LAW GIVER EXISTS, and we know it!
- (Remember that all of this thought is surfacing while Shiloh is reasoning with Sabino.) Next Shiloh says “If a person has broken the divine and eternal and universal moral law, of the Universal Law Giver, then he will need to PAY THE CONSEQUENCES to the ETERNAL GOD.”
As I look back on our dialogue, I am again impressed with the basic and profound nature of all we were talking about. It just makes sense. What we were discussing is so important that I am writing it down and, I think that you and I are wise to reason through each of these points to discover if they are really accurate. Also, as I reflect on this evocative conversation, I am remembering the following as well. Here is a retelling of the same conversation from a different angle.
A) After Shiloh reasoned with Sabino about his inborn conscience he said something like “Don’t take my word for it that God exists. YOU ALREADY KNOW IN YOUR SOUL THAT GOD EXISTS. Don’t believe me or what some Christian says about God, start by believing what you know inside of yourself.” Sabino nodded in agreement.
B) “YOU KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG” Shiloh said to Sabino. We were all on the same page. I chimed in “Yea, like, remember when we were just talking about that guy in the neighborhood who beat the tar our of his friend for sleeping with his wife? We all understood that he could do that because whether we are secular, Christian or whatever, we all know that it is wrong to commit adultery. It’s written on all of our hearts, eternally.”
C) YOUR CONSCIENCE IS REAL. Your conscience is forever inside of you. You can’t run away from it. God put it there. Everyone has a conscience, in every country of the world. Muslims, Catholics, Communists and Hare Krishnas all agree that hatred and murder are wrong. We share the view that lying is bad, etcetera…
D) If there is a Universal Law (and there is) then THERE MUST BE A UNIVERSAL LAW GIVER. This follows logically and we are justifiable in calling this Universal Law Giver God.
E) If the Universal Law Giver Exists, them WE ARE RESPONSIBLE TO HIM.
You might think that this was a heated or an angry conversation but it wasn’t. It was really friendly and open. We had a kind and polite exchange of ideas without judgement. God is the judge, remember? 🙂
Still, Sabino tried to wiggle out of the corner he had agreed himself into by reminding us that religious people are hypocrites and that they violate the Laws of God too. Yes they do. And again, Shiloh was helpful in his response. Shiloh reasoned as follows. Jesus’ half-brother, James, taught us that true “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27) This is what real spirituality looks like: 1) lovingly worshiping God, His way; 2) caring for others in their need; and 3) avoiding sin. Whatever fails to do this is false religion. We are all against fake spirituality.
You might be an uncaring atheist like George Carlin said that he was. You might be trying to earn your own salvation with God as a devout Mormon. In any case, we can all understand that no one is perfect. We all mess up and fail in many ways. We break the law. This means that there is a Law and a Law Giver. We are responsible to this God whose Laws we are constantly violating. If you think you are a good person, well then, you have never taken “The Good Person Test” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCSUKIhjevo ). Because, none of us is a good person, really, we need the pardon of a gracious and merciful God. Because none of us is a good person, we need to admit our lostness and seek the Savior, who is Jesus of Nazareth. God is good. Because God is good, He must be just. Because God is just he must bring justice to everyone, including you and me. (God will bring eternal justice to everyone – not just to Hitler but to the petty, one time thief and the secretly lustful and the not so open blasphemer.) We need His mercy in Messiah. Thank you for reading these thoughts. I hope good things for you as you think through these ideas.
NB: Shiloh reasoned well with our neighbor. We credit him for that. And, this line of reasoning isn’t new. Philosophers call it “The Moral Argument”. You can learn more about it here: https://www.gotquestions.org/moral-argument.html
PS: If this line of reasoning is of interest to you, please read what the Apostle Paul says about the righteousness of God and the sinfulness of humanity. He summarizes this issue with much greater precision than we are able! https://biblia.com/bible/csb/romans/1/18-24