Sadly, many do not think about these issues or give a second thought about their conduct. It is hard to persuade people to look inwardly or to get them to admit mistakes. Jesus tried and tried to get the Jewish leadership to look beyond their selfish interests, but they did not want the truth. Instead, they wanted Christ dead because He challenged their attitude, character and service. (John 5)
Even though the Jewish authorities claimed to know and respect Scripture, they did not believe in any standard higher than self. This is obvious in that they held their traditions higher than God’s Word. Jesus said of them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:9)
Their pride and ego kept them from admitting the truth about Christ and their own bad behavior. It was a heart issue where they did not want to examine themselves against any standard higher than themselves. “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Mark 7:6-7)
People can also do a good job of deflecting the truth when they feel awkward or uncomfortable with the facts. They stand up with a straight face and deny the obvious or make idiotic statements to redirect criticism. I am reminded of the Jews’ response to Jesus performing miracles. “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” (Matt. 12:24) It is as if they think we have thick heads and will buy any response given. Unfortunately, many of us do.
Some look like they take pleasure in wrongdoing and in being as evil as they can be. I know this does not make sense to Christians, and we may wonder, “How can people feel good about bad behavior”? The answer is simple; they neither respect God nor the Bible. (Rom. 1:16-32) Instead of following the high standards of Scripture, they would rather do what makes them feel good.
The truth is, when we decide right and wrong by personal feelings, no real standard exists. That means you define good and evil the way you want and I will do the same. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20-21)
Scripture encourages us to honestly and sincerely examine ourselves. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5) This testing is against the standard of God’s Word and our lives must fit its guidelines.
While we should spiritually grow to a point where we are not making the same mistakes over and again, Christians understand they are not without sin. To deny we sin is contrary to Bible teaching. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8&10)
This does not mean we are powerless to do right. We need to regret each and every time we sin against God. We need to ask God’s forgiveness and resolve to do better. So the power to do right and grow spiritually comes from God, but must be embraced by us. Christians want to make sure their lives live up to God’s standard. We are not powerless to do right because by our Lord’s death we can do right. The question is, will you and I submit to God’s rule for doing right?