"The Living Thing"
The Biblical definitions of good and evil, right and wrong, begin with the deeper matter of life and death. Good and right originate in the life of God, and proceed from His character, nature, and way. Right and wrong have their origins in devilish and human rejection of Divine life, and thus in the death of alienation from Him. (UPDATE: This sentence should have read: "Evil and wrong have their origins in devilish and human rejection of Divine life.")
"I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil" (Deuteronomy 30:15).
God accounts as good and right those thoughts, attitudes, words, and deeds that flow from His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His work in believers through the indwelling Holy Spirit. "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). This involves obviously spiritual matters, but also includes the everyday realities that seem natural and more human than Divine. Doing good and acting rightly, as defined by our Heavenly Father, means that our ways begin with Christ's presence in us. He is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Our privileged responsibility involves trusting Him - "the just shall live by faith" - and devoting ourselves to His Lordship in the recognition of His rightful role as our Father and Master - "yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead" (Romans 1:17; 6:13). As God thereby works in us, and we work by Him, we consistently do the good thing, the right thing, or more literally, the living thing.
I am a strong believer in Biblical ethics and morality. No true experience of God fails to emphasis the good and the right, as defined by Scripture. "Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14). However, I am also aware that true Christianity constitutes the deeper matter of life. The ethical and the moral in believers are fruits of our Lord's living presence in us. Moreover, such presence must be realized and accessed in fellowship with God. When we do the genuinely right thing, we may not realize that our action resulted from a prayer we prayed this morning, or last week, or five years ago. We might forget a reading of Scripture from recently or in the distant past that informed and infused us with the life of Christ to enable the present act of faith and faithfulness. Or perhaps fellowship our Lord through our brothers and sisters in Christ prepared us to do good in this moment. Whatever the case, true goodness and righteousness never involve merely acts. They rather begin and proceed with life, the life of the Lord Jesus, as given to us by our Father, and formed in us by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, we live first, and then the good and the right proceed as matters of relationship with the living God rather than merely efforts to be good and do right.
"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
"Seek the Lord and ye shall live."
Weekly Memory Verse
He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.