One of my mentors once said, “God has no grandchildren, only children”. What he simply meant was that every person must experience God for themselves. If my parents were devoted followers of Christ, that does not guarantee that I will be. Yes, they can pass down “Christian values” and righteous principles, but without my own experience with God, I would only be another moral person who doesn’t know Him.
Jacques Ellul once said that “God’s revelation has nothing to do with morality”. He was conveying the fact that human morality has often been substituted for the will of God. A person can hate abortion and still live for themselves supremely because their actions stem from morality, not God-encounter.
Morality in itself is not evil, as it is important to have a code of conduct for the human race – but it becomes evil when it substitutes for the holiness of God. The Pharisees were guilty of this as they were the most moral people on earth, but they wouldn’t follow Jesus. This is why Jesus rebuked them by saying:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life;
it is these that testify about Me;”
John 5:39 (NAS)
Could it be that a lot of Christianity we see is based on “morality”, not “God revelation” – That it is founded on vestigial conservative principles left by our fathers (which are not wrong within themselves)? They can, however, substitute for a revelation of God. Morality and holiness are not the same thing. Conservative values do not equal following Jesus.
Jesus Himself met a rich man who had conservative values but lacked “one thing”, he had to sell all he had. It wasn’t about the rich man selling everything he had, but that in doing so, he would prove to be a follower of Christ. His actions would reveal that he followed a person, not just principles. Do you follow a person (Jesus) or just principles?
When Isaiah encountered God, he said, “I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips and live among people with unclean lips”; he did not say that out of a sense of morality, but out of a revelation of God: “For my eyes have seen the king” (Isaiah 6:5). Because he saw God, he saw his own human morality as “filthy rags”.
Isaiah could have never seen his condition, nor the condition of his people, had he seen it through the eyes of another human being.
When you live off of someone else’s insights, you will do the right thing because of moral insight or indoctrination, not personal, godly vision. This is why in holiness, “why” someone does right is as important as the right they are doing.
Spiritual insight can only come from a spiritual source, never moral.
“For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
1 Corinthians 2:10–11, 13-16 (NASB)
How many have had an encounter with the “church”, or “Christian culture”, or media, but not with Jesus? In this kind of experience, good is done based on catechism (or what the church teaches), not conviction that comes from knowing God. People then avoid evil because it’s illegal, not because it is wrong . . . Not because, like Isaiah, their eyes have “seen the King”.