All of Life is Ethical, and the Bible is the Yardstick

Every Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness in order that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

The following excerpt is taken from a book I’m currently reading called By This Standard, by the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen, arguably the most brilliant apologist of the 2oth century.  (Whet your appetite for Bahnsen by starting with his “The Myth of Neutrality” talk, which segues with our worldview focus this quarter.)

“If we disregard any portion of the Bible, we will, to that extent, fail to be thoroughly furnished for every good work.  If we ignore certain requirements laid down by the Lord in the Bible, our instruction in righteousness will be incomplete.  Paul says that every single Scripture is profitable for ethical living; every verse gives us direction for how we should live.

“The entire Bible is our ethical yardstick, for every part of it is the word of the eternal, unchanging God; none of the Bible offers fallible or mistaken direction to us today.  Not one of God’s stipulations is unjust, being too lenient or too harsh.  And God does not unjustly have a double standard of morality, one standard of justice for some and another standard of justice for others.  Every single dictate of God’s word, then, is intended to provide moral instruction for us today, so that we can demonstrate justice, holiness, and truth in our lives.

“It is important to note here that when Paul said that “every Scripture is inspired by God and profitable” for holy living, the New Testament was not as yet completed, gathered together, and existing as a published collection of books.  Paul’s direct reference was to the well known Old Testament Scriptures, and indirectly to the soon-to-be-completed New Testament.  By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul taught New Testament believers that every single Old Testament writing was profitable for their present instruction in righteousness, if they were to be completely furnished for every good work required of them by God.

“Not one bit of the Old Testament has become ethically irrelevant, according to Paul.  That is why we, as Christians, should speak of our moral viewpoint, not merely as “New Testament Ethics”, but as “Biblical Ethics”.  The New Testament requires that we take the Old Testament as ethically normative for us today.  Not just selected portions of the Old Testament, mind you, but “every Scripture”.  Failure to honor the whole duty of man as revealed in the Old Testament is nothing short of a failure to be completely equipped for righteous living.  It is to measure one’s ethical duty by a broken and incomplete yardstick.

“…But doesn’t the coming of Jesus Christ change all that?  Hasn’t the Old Testament law been either cancelled or at least reduced in its requirements?  Many professing believers are misled in the direction of these questions, despite God’s clear requirement that nothing be subtracted from His law, despite the straightforward teaching of Paul and James’ that every Old Testament Scripture…has a binding ethical authority in the life of the New Testament Christian.

“Perhaps the best place to go in Scripture to be rid of the theological inconsistency underlying a negative attitude toward the Old Testament law is to the very words of Jesus Himself on this subject.  Matthew 5:17-19.  Nothing could be clearer than that Christ here denies twice (for the sake of emphasis) that His coming has abrogated the Old Testament law:

Do not think that I came to abolish the law or the prophets; I did not come to abolish…For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the slightest letter or stroke shall pass away from the law.

“And if there could remain any doubt in our minds as to the meaning of the Lord’s teaching here, He immediately removes it by applying His attitude toward the law to our behavior:

Therefore whoever annuls one of the least of these commandments and teaches others so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

“Christ’s coming did not abrogate anything in the Old Testament law, for every single stroke of the law will abide until the passing away of this world; consequently, the follower of Christ is not to teach that even the least Old Testament requirement has been invalidated by Christ and His work.  As the Psalmist declared:

Every one of Thy righteous ordinances is EVERLASTING.  Psalm 119:160

So then, all of life is ethical, and ethics requires a standard of right and wrong.  For the Christian, that yardstick is found in the Bible—the ENTIRE Bible, from beginning to end.  The New Testament believer repudiates the teaching of the law itself, of the Psalms, of James, of Paul and of Jesus Himself when the Old Testament commandments of God are ignored or treated as a mere antiquated standard of justice and righteousness.

The word of our God shall stand forever.  Isaiah 40:8

And the Old Testament law is part of every word from God’s mouth by which we must live (Matt. 4:4).”

Natalie Klejwa is a Wemmick, loved by the Woodcarver, wife of 22 years to Joe, and mother to 9 Wemmicks ages 2-20. She is a business owner (Apple Valley Natural Soap), founder and administrator of the Visionary Womanhood blog, publisher and contributing author of Three Decades of Fertility, You Can Do it Too! 25 Families Share Their Stories, and The Heart of Simplicity: Foundations for Christian Homemaking.

You can hear her being interviewed on Kevin Swanson's Generations with Vision radio program.

Follow Natalie on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google +.

View all posts by Natalie →

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “All of Life is Ethical, and the Bible is the Yardstick