The only standard, or plumb line, that stretches unchanged ­throughout history is the standard of God’s Word. In it we have the revelation of God’s character, who He is and what He requires. There is no other goodness or rightness apart from Him.
Every time you turn around someone seems to be setting a new record or proposing new standards. Things are constantly in flux. What is a given today will be changed tomorrow. I’ll never forget how excited the world of track and field was in 1954 when Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile barrier, a feat that many thought was out of man’s reach. Well, it lasted for 45 minutes and since then the mile record (the 1500 meter race has taken its place) has been broken multiple times.
What should concern us, however, is that this changing of standards is not limited to such things as sports, the environment or automobile safety. It has now entered the arena of morality, and the changes are happening more quickly here than in any other arena of life. And it is very obvious that in a secular society when moral standards change, they never are raised. They are always lowered.
Some political leaders in our nation, who call themselves “Christian,” are showing a disregard for what Scripture says about the very things they have been condoning and even promoting. I recall a speech Senator Patrick Moynihan gave many years ago in which he talked about “defining deviancy down.” He pointed out how we are adjusting our moral code and standards to match the decline of morality in our country. This way we can continue to think well of ourselves because we are meeting our own standards. Yet with every new standard we set, we move farther away from God.
As shocking as it is to think secular society is actually doing this, it is even more shocking to find the church, which is supposed to be setting the standard, actually contributing to the decline. And this inclination to reinterpret what God has said, in order for it to fit how we want to live, has entered every part of our lives. It is even affecting how the church views worship.
The standard God set thousands of years ago is as relevant today as it was when Moses carried the stone tablets down from the mountain. The Ten Commandments were the basis of the Old Testament law. The first four deal with our relationship to God. They address His fundamental requirements for worship. The last six commandments deal with our relationship to other people.
The commandments are the basis of God’s standard of living for His people. If our desire is to please and honor Him, we will obey what He has told us to do. If we want to offer Him acceptable worship, we will heed what He says about it. As we obey these commands, we personify to the world, in our living and in our worshiping, what God is like, for behind each of the commandments stands God. The commandments reveal His character. First Peter 1:15–16 gives us this instruction: “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”
God did not give these commandments to restrict us, but to liberate us. I believe this is where a lot of people are confused. Many, if not most, think of the commandments as being restrictive, but actually, they were given to “free us” to be all that God created us to be. Isn’t that an incredible thought?
When we consider the commandments to be negative, or restrictive, we are misunderstanding God’s purpose for giving them in the first place. The reason there is such a battle going on in our land over whether they should even be hung in government buildings is because the world doesn’t understand their purpose. They can only see them as being restrictive, because they have not yet been delivered out of bondage to sin. What really is sad, however, is when many Christians also see the commandments in that light.

To be continued in the next blog