High standard of morality

The Scriptures teach a high standard of ethics and morality. What are they and why does the violation of them call for disciplinary action?

1. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). By such a command Christ concludes his exposition of the law of love, extended to all irrespective of who they are. We are to do good to all men, not simply to those who do us good. In this respect, then, a willful neglect of this high precept renders us law-breakers and thus would come under discipline from our own brethren.

2. "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour" (1 Thessalonians 4:3,4). In giving practical and hortatory teaching, Paul draws a straight line and contrasts the manner of behavior that should characterize the children of God with the immoral behavior rampant in the world at large. In sexual matters the church should see to it that it walks in purity and integrity. Otherwise it would not be any different that unbelievers.

3. "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain" (James 1:26). The unbelievers' speech is replete with vanity, blasphemies, crudeness, gossip, worldliness and lack of love (with no salt and no grace). The professing Christian who, as a matter of course, has no self-control over his own tongue, should therefore be confronted in love and admonished. James tells us that his religion is empty, it lacks substance. Such a person should not be allowed to continue in his course of self-deceit.

4. "I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me" (Matthew 25:35-36). In the Final Judgment the vindication of the elect will be seen by an account of their practical labour of love. Not their religious mumbo-jumbo, not their resolutions, but their actual faith proved by their regular deeds of charity. Christians should see to it that they continually prick one another unto love and good works. When a person is destitute of such deeds, though he may be proficient in his theology, is not to be left without being challenged to see his hollowness.

5. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). God's requirements of us is not be measured by our ability, even in our regenerated state. We are to imitate Christ; for practical purposes, to model our lives on the lives of those who earnestly emulate to please Him in all things. Those who continually say that this is impossible and too idealistic (and therefore not for them) are to be nouthetically confronted to have them realize that holiness is an ever-increasing matter in the life of the Christian, and not something static.

6. "Let all your things be done with charity" (1 Corinthians 16:14). Without love, whatsoever we engage to do will prove to be nothing, futile; it will be burned up at the tribunal of Christ. How easy it is for us to foolishly do many acts for show, to impress others, or pacify our own conscience. But if love is lacking, which is the genius of our holy faith, then our accomplishments will add up to nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1ff.). Within the church, and indeed anywhere else, and in every relationship, love should dominate. Where it is lacking, the person must be brought to his right senses.