As you read the four gospels, you will notice after Jesus is asked a question He often responds by quoting from the Old Testament. The reason is because He stands on the authority of the scripture. The Old Testament served as the authority of the Jewish people. God warns them in Deuteronomy 4:2 not to add or take away from the sacred scripture.
It is interesting to me how people’s view of the Bible has changed in my lifetime. So many people just see it as nothing more than a book that offers suggestions for decent living. You can take it or leave it.
How has this happened? One of the main reasons is that modern people have become radically individualistic, which means they are anti-authority. Words like submission, obedience, discipline and responsibility, are unpopular words. On the other hand, words like choice, personal fulfillment, and freedom have much greater appeal.
As a result, today there are many people who have no real personal authority to help guide them in living and making moral decisions. The Bible is clear that we need authority in our lives. Our hearts need authority, otherwise we will follow the desires of our hearts, wherever they may lead us. This is why Solomon tells us in Proverbs 28:26, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.” The human heart is naturally selfish and depraved.
Dr. Christian Smith is a highly regarded sociologist who teaches at Notre Dame. He interviewed 230 college students about their view of morality. He concluded that young people today have a difficult time saying anything sensible about morality. He said,
When asked to describe a moral dilemma they had faced, two-thirds of the young people couldn’t answer the question or described problems that are not moral at all, like whether they could afford to rent a certain apartment or whether they had enough quarters to feed the meter at a parking spot.
Not many of them have previously given much or any thought to many of the kinds of questions about morality that we asked,” Smith and his co-authors write. When asked about wrong or evil, they could generally agree that rape and murder are wrong. But, aside from these extreme cases, moral thinking didn’t enter the picture, even when considering things like drunken driving, cheating in school or cheating on a partner. “I don’t really deal with right and wrong that often,” is how one interviewee put it.
His final conclusion from these interviews is that our young people are morally confused. They have no moral authority to submit to.
For this reason, life for so many does not make sense. They do not realize that God’s word is not a bunch of arbitrary restrictions that He has placed on our lives. I like to tell people that God’s word is like an owner’s manual, it explains how you are designed and how your life can flourish.
Author Ronald Macaulay gives some great insight into the authority of God’s word and a life that flourishes:
[God’s law] helps us to see how we are made to function. For obviously, if we are made to live in a certain way, and we live against that design, we make life difficult for ourselves. It is a little like treating plants, or animals or even machines according to their design. We have to find out the proper environment, temperature, food, attitudes, fuel, etcetera, which each requires – then, as we respect these design factors, things work, plants are healthy and produce flowers and fruit, animals are healthy and obedient, machines run smoothly.
The same is true for man. He is designed in a certain way, both physically and spiritually. Therefore, the closer he gets to living consistently with his design, the better he is, the freer he is. This is how the law has a positive function. This is why we must respect it, search for it, receive it gladly (even when it contradicts previously held opinions). The more we receive it, and the more we try to do it (“continue in it,” “hold to it”), the more we are set free.
This is the way God intended it to be, and this is what leads to our ultimate well-being.
Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.