Lesson: Evolution of the Moral System, Part 2
Review of last few sessions
- The idea of absolutes has always existed, even if it is not clearly
- Mankind abandoned innocence in the Garden of Eden, and instead chose
a moral system that is different from God's system. In Eden, they were
so "pure" that they have little or no knowledge of things that are sinful.
- After Eden, mankind were given a chance to live out their lives based
on their conscience. This period was full of sin. Clearly men's
conscience is insufficient to guide their behavior.
- With the Ten Commandments, God gave a basic template of how is one
to live their lives. Except the fifth commandment which tells people
to honor their parents, the man-to-man section of the Ten Commandments was
basically telling people not to harm others. This "do-no-harm" system
is clearly insufficient. The world would be a horrible place to be
in if people only follow the Ten Commandments and no more.
- For most of the other stated rules, it's basically "an eye for an eye."
Some rules, such as those governing the cities of refuge, seem out-of-place
because they are foreshadows of the Christ's substitutionary atonement.
Jesus the Revolutionary
When Jesus came, he turned the moral system upside-down. Some of the
guidelines he proposed are:
What are the new basic concepts of Jesus' "new" moral system?
- Love your enemies and actively help them. Look to God for rewards.
- Give, and you shall receive from God.
- Forgive & have compassion.
(Note: I'm avoiding the use of the word "love" because it's too general.
It will become obvious during the discussions that most of these concepts
are different manifestations of "love.")
The relationship between these three concepts can be generalized as:
- Compassion -- the motivation behind the healing ministry of Jesus (best
story: Jesus touching the leper after telling him that he was willing to
- Forgiveness -- this is the counter-weight to God's justice. In
fact, this is the demonstration of God's love in response to His justice.
To achieve real forgiveness and still keep the system of justice uncompromised,
he had to resort to substitutionary atonement (see "A Tale of Two Friends").
(good stories: forgiving sins when healing; one of the seven phrases of Jesus
when on the cross)
- Humility/serving -- this is perhaps the most difficult to comprehend.
(good story: washing disciples' feet)
=> The result: his ministry of healing and his substitutionary atonement
of our sins
- Humility -- being the fundamental characteristic of God
- Compassion -- guided by humility, this is the motivation behind his
decisions and actions. Jesus didn't come and have compassion for us
because he feels sorry for the pitiful creatures he put on earth or seeks
to get compensation for his efforts. He loves us and wants to serve
- Forgiveness -- led by compassion (instead of pride), he forgives our
sins and pays for our sins. Through his forgiveness and sacrifice we
are liberated by the bondage of sin and can be set free from curses and diseases.
Why is humility a fundamental characteristic of God?
- Not usually found with persons in high positions and power
- Often humility is a characteristic forced upon us because of circumstances
out of our control
- Just another one of God's incomprehensible characteristics? Maybe
our moral system and conscience are so polluted that we cannot see the proper
logic of God's humility. Maybe humility is one of the most valued characteristics
but we fail to appreciate it.
Virtues of humility
- Knowing one's lack of complete knowledge helps one to work hard to
- Humility without a sense of inferiority naturally leads to service
for others, as Jesus tried to teach us by washing disciples' feet.
- Humility allows easier demonstration of love, while pride naturally
leads to a desire of dominance. It's hard for someone else to see your
love when you try to dominate them.
- God is the same yesterday, today,
and forever. If it is a characteristic of Jesus, it must be an eternal
characteristic of the triune God
- Could it be that Jesus is humble but God the Father is not? Jesus
learned to be humble because while on earth he was far less powerful than
God the Father and was mortal.
This lesson was developed by George Huang. Got a question
or want to publish this lesson? E-mail me.
Last updated: 3/29/2002