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Summary: The unpopular notion of absolute truth, and how obedience leads us to truth

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TRUTH, OBEDIENCE, AND OTHER ANTIQUE VIRTUES

1 John 2:3-6 March 5, 1995

INTRO:

A few weeks ago, during our Friday night devotional, I asked my teens how many of them had seen "Schindler’s List", Steven Spielberg’s recent movie about the Holocaust. I asked them: was the Holocaust right or was it wrong? They said it was wrong, and so I asked them this question: why was it wrong? Byron Riopel said it was wrong because the Bible says that killing is wrong. A couple other kids said it was wrong because everyone has a right to live. Then one of my grade eight guys said this: "Wait a minute: How can we say that it was wrong for the Nazis? We can’t say that something is wrong for them just because we think it is wrong."

This young man confirmed what I had been studying about our youth - many of our young people do not know the basic difference between right and wrong - further; many will not agree that an objective, absolute standard of right and wrong even exists. I defined absolute truth for them as those moral rules which are true for any person, in any place or situation, at any time - and some of my kids really did not like that idea. They were not willing to accept that some truths are absolute. You see, our culture has taught them (and us) that truth is relative. It’s taught us that our job as we grow to maturity is to decide what we are going to believe - we decide what is true for us. Ever heard someone say "If that works for you, great; but I’ll decide what is right for me." In our culture, someone is mature when they have decided what they want to believe and are "true to themselves".

Scripture, however, teaches us that maturity is something different. We are mature when we learn to obey. Not the mindless, unthinking image of obedience that 50 years of war movies and TV sitcoms has given us, where some soldier in some far-off place is forced to blindly obey obviously stupid orders from some half-crazed superior officer. Rather, Scripture calls us to thoughtful obedience to Christ out of a relationship of love and gratitude based on complete revelation of God’s will for our lives. Look up 1 John 2:3-6.

While your looking that up, there are a few more things that I need to say about truth, before moving on to obedience. Parents and grandparents, you need to teach your children that there is such a thing as absolute, transcendant truth - things that are true for any person in any situation at any time. You need to teach them:

1. The Rule - as recorded in Scripture - for example, murder is wrong. Lying is wrong. Sex outside of marriage is wrong.

2. The Reason - the why behind the rule (often the consequences) - murder is wrong because life is sacred and taking someone’s life results in pain and anguish for both the family and for the murderer. Lying is wrong because if you lie then no one will trust you, and you’ll be alone. Sex outside of marriage is wrong because intimacy apart from life-long commitment breeds pain and uncertainty and distrust, not to mention any of the potential physical consequeces like pregnancy and STDs, and because it maims the potential for maximum enjoyment of sex within marriage.

3. The Standard - if truth is absolute -ie. transcends human experience, it must have an absolute standard that also trancends human experience - and the only standard that is adequate is the character of God Himself, as revealed through the Scriptures. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6). God’s character defines truth. Murder is wrong because God is a God of life - He created it and said it is good. Lying is wrong because God is a God of truth, and in Him there is no deception. Sex outside of marriage is wrong because God is a God of purity, self-control, and because He never seperates intimacy and commitment.

We need to teach our children the Rule, the Reason behind the rule, and the Standard, which is God’s character.

1 John 2:3-6 (pick up verses 1-3 to set the stage):

This passage talks about obedience in three ways:

1. Obedience is the foundation for Spiritual experience

2. Obedience is the test of the knowlege of God

3. Obedience makes God’s love complete

1. Obedience is the foundation for Spiritual experience

vs 3 begins: "We know that we have come to know him..." A desire to know God is the starting point for all of our faith journeys. We became Christians because someone offered us an opportunity to enter into a relationship with God, where we can know Him and where He knows us. If you have not yet become a Christian, then today I offer you that opportunity - to know God. This verse provides us with an assurance, a confidence: "We KNOW that we have come to know him"... how do we know? "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands". Obedience is the foundation for Spiritual experience - if we obey his commands, we know that we know Him.

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