Moral Codes And The Death of Dumpster Fires

In some circles, a thought is posited as to cast a skeptical light on Scripture’s veracity as a moral authority/guide:

Many written moral codes predate the Bible and even the Ten Commandments (IE Hammurabi Code)

What’s interesting about this argument is that the Bible itself explicitly confirms it. The Bible account displays a moral code that predates its own writing and even predates the stone tablets of Mt Sinai. From the beginning a moral code was expressed in the garden, with God’s displeasure of Cain’s murder of Abel. Not long after that Noah and Enoch were portrayed as righteous men long before a written moral law could show them righteous. Certainly, all manner of foreign ancient civilizations lived by some sort of common moral code.

This is how it should be.

There is a beautiful reality called “common grace” which would include God’s care to protect and preserve all sorts of cultures and religions with common moral standards.

The Bible is very affirming of the moral codes of other cultures: After all, God has set His law on the hearts of all men (Romans 2:14-15).  It’s a part of being fellow image bearers that we would share a common conscience despite cultural and time boundaries. Because of this, we should see a variety of cultures and religions, ancient or otherwise who live according to moral standards closely associated to those of Mosaic Law and even Sermon on the Mount teachings.

But this only tells half the story. Because in actuality, the Bible is not primarily a book of moral rule making and keeping. The Bible reveals God’s moral law, sure, but it does that to reveal the character of His person.

The issue isn’t whether all cultures have some higher inherent moral standard (they do) the issue is the abject failure of all men to live according to that inherent born standard (James 2:10). A man guilty of breaking one point of the law is guilty of all of it. The law, even the law of conscience, was made to reveal man’s sin but not necessarily abolish it (Romans 3:20). Yet God doesn’t just throw out an impossibly severe task to weak humanity (live the law perfectly!), and then idly sit back to watch the dumpster fire we’ll create of it.

Any moral code that doesn’t utterly deal with the root sinful nature of man is a cruel taskmaster indeed.

God enters into the dumpster fire, through His son, lives out the standard we couldn’t, and then dies to take on the just wrath that law breaking men deserve. He remains just in that He punishes wickedness on the cross, and He remains love in that He offers forgiveness on the cross.

Thank God He doesn’t just give a perfect moral code (with common ancient variations) and leave us to our own fallen devices to futilely grunt it out. Instead He offers invincible grace through His dear Son, who did what no man could do for himself.

Dumpster fires be damned.

Bryan Daniels

Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

24 thoughts on “Moral Codes And The Death of Dumpster Fires”

  1. Very good take on the ancient moral codes Bryan. I do find it interesting that other cultures where man was supposed to have “started” or taken root, that there are a variety of creation stories and flood stories. Many of the flood stories deal with some of the VERY same things that Noah did. There were animals, evil generations, and a “righteous” person in many of these flood stories. I think the point can be taken that mankind does indeed have a moral code within us that is not just here because of naturalism or darwinian evolution. (There is just no way that could have happened in my opinion…for obviouos reasons) However, I find it interesting that these ancient cultures have a creation story and other moral stories that point towards man being a very fallen and sinful creature. I talked to an atheist the other day in which I stated, if mankind is truely evolving into something better, we certainly don’t seem to be doing a great job of it. Too many attrocities in this world for that to be a valid argument. Her only response was that we just voted in certain states to approve gay marriage. REALLY?! That’s what she has to base her beliefs of naturalistic evolution and moral evolution on? The fact that we have decided in certain states to allow gay marriage!! That seems like the biggest stretch possible considering that gay marriage and gay relationships dont even allow for reproduction of the species.

    Ok so I say all that to say that your article provides a good point for there being moral codes that predate the laws of Moses. The Hebrew people lived in Egypt for 400 years and learned a LOT about culture and worship of deities there. Moses fled Egypt and went and lived among the land of Midian. Who knows what kind of influences that he brought back. But the point is that God deals with mankind in a way that mankind would/will understand. He brought about a covenant language because the Hebrew people and mankind of that era understood what a Covenant was. In fact, God created a Covenant with Abrahama long before the Exodus.

    I rambled on…feel free to discuss these points if you like.

  2. Reblogged this on Finding Truth and commented:
    I thought this post tied in nicely with the last two I’ve done on morality. Please read this over at Chief of the Least and then come back to see my thoughts on it. I’ll post a quick thought in the comment section below.

  3. You know, I’ve never thought of it just this way, but the Bible is God’s autobiography — revealing His character, His moral covenant, His purpose, His grace, and HIs plan for salvation. Love it when you make me see something totally new. Sandy

  4. “The Bible reveals God’s moral law, sure, but it does that to reveal the character of His person.”
    Love this post. You put a lot of Paul’s writings on the lower shelf so we can understand what God is up to.
    Praise be to Jesus!

  5. Excellent post Bryan. Very well stated points in this article. I love your point about the cross and what was done there. To many cry foul about a “loving” God that sends people to hell for sinning. First, people choose to send themselves to hell because they choose to sin, and reject Christ’s offer of forgiveness. God stepped in and paid the price of sin for us. God sends none to hell, if anyone chooses to reject God’s offer of a free “get out of hell and have a better life”card…well that is their fault, not God’s.


  6. From the first pages of Genesis to the last Word in Revelation God reveals himself to be a God of grace who comes to us in love. The heart of God stands in stark contrast to other myths and religious systems throughout history in which we humans must satisfy a law and/or the demands and desires of some god. The True God knows we can’t reach him, so as you so colorfully suggest, he himself did some dumpster diving to rescue us. I’m forever grateful and endlessly fascinated by the Bible – His story. Thanks for this post.

  7. Written well Bryan! The Truth of the Word is indeed to show us the person of God Himself in our Lord Jesus. I wrote a similar post a while back,( not as eloquently written as yours of course ;). Anyway…another “gold star” for you! Your desire to speak the truth in love is very honoring to our Heavenly Father! Blessings!

  8. I like the way you ended this post. Without the sacrifice (and resurrection) of Jesus, Christianity is no different from any other ‘system of belief’ whereby humans try to find a moral code to live and get along by. Yes, all people generally live by some set of ‘morality’, and no, that’s not what Scripture is about.

  9. Bryan,
    This is what I would say if I could, but you can and do say so well.
    I tried with, “What All Religions Have in Common, What is Unique About Christianity”.
    Bryan, I sincerely want nothing more than for Christ to be glorified.
    Your posts are a treasure, a clear reflection of, “The Pearl of Great Price”, Jesus Christ.
    Its not about me Chief.
    Its about Jesus.

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