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

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