These last few posts have been preparing us for the next series of posts called Building Your Life On Values That Last that start next Sunday.
What are your values? They are the core beliefs that shape everything you do in life. Many people don’t believe what you believe really matters, but that’s not true. It does matter what you believe. Your beliefs determine your behavior and your behavior determines what you become.
If you look at the foundation of a person, it’s based on the things they have chosen to value. Your convictions in life determine your conduct and your conduct determines your character. So whatever you want to be in life, you better quickly figure out what your values are because they determine your stress level, your success, your salvation and many other things.
You know what basically everyone in our society agrees with today? It’s not much but there is one thing. Whether you’re a conservative or liberal, a republican or a democrat, religious or irreligious, a Christian or a non-Christian…the vast majority of people say that our society today is in a stage of moral decline. There is a decaying of values in our society and this crisis can be seen in many areas.
What is the cause of this moral decline? Two words: TRUTH DECAY
Historically, for our society, there was much more universal agreement about what was true, what was right and what was wrong. That didn’t mean everybody did right, people still did wrong all the time. But there was no disagreement about what was right or wrong or true. Now, our society believes there is no such thing as right and wrong and there is no absolute truth. There are no standards by which you can evaluate your life and behavior.
How did we get to the point when someone says what is true, right or wrong recieves all sorts of controversy? We fell for four very destructive philosphies that have replaced truth in our society.
Four Destructive Philosophies
Individualism says, “I live for myself and only I can judge what’s true, what’s right, what’s wrong. You don’t have any place telling me what’s right or wrong or true.”
Individualism has gone on in nations for centuries and millenniums. Thousands of years ago the nation of Israel fell prey to this. If you want to read the dark ages of the nation of Israel, read the book of Judges. It was the time of total chaos.
“In those days Israel had no [authority]; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” Judges 21:25 NLT
Does that sound vaguely familiar? If there is no standard, no rule, no law, no absolutes, then people can do whatever they want. That’s an easy philosophy to hold onto because it means you never have to feel guilty. You don’t have to measure up to anyone else’s standards.
Secularism can be summarized in three words: God is unnecessary. Secularism does not mean that I don’t believe there’s a god. Secularism may believe there’s a god, but they have decided they just don’t need Him in their life.
For the last few decades we have been systematically removing God from every area of public life — schools, government, media, news, all the different areas of public opinion in life and we basically relegated God to church buildings on Sunday mornings.
“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks.” Romans 1:21 NLT
At one time, in our nation, we got them from the moral authority of the ten commandments. We hung them everywhere. More people went to church than did not go to church and we got our values from that.
Where are most people getting their values today? The number one purveyor of values today is not God, the Bible, the church, even parents. It’s TV, streaming, podcasts and social media. The places where you take the most bizarre people on the planet, give them a platform and say, “This is normal.”
Materialism is when you build your life on valuables that won’t last. When you worship things instead of the God who created everything.
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped created things rather than the Creator.” Romans 1:25 NIV
The moment we put our valuables in front of our values, it’s destructive. When we give to our valuables before we give to God. When we give to our truck, our hunting collection, our house, our hobbies our possessions before we give to God we’re falling for a destructive philosophy called materialism.
The idea behind relativism says, “What’s true for me may not be true for you and what’s true for me may not be true for you. Therefore, what’s right for me, may not be right for you and what’s right for you, may not be right for me.”
At this point, nobody can say what’s right or wrong, because all truth is relative. There are very few people who will level with you today. When people go through a major life decision like, “Should I move in with this person?” or “Should I take these drugs?” and people all around you are telling you to do whatever is best for you, they don’t love you.
People who tell you the truth are those who love you.
There’s another phrase that relativism uses: No absolutes. Don’t let anybody con you with statements that say there are no absolute truths.
The whole world and universe proves that there are things you can depend on because they are absolutely true. There is evidence of absolute truth all around us. There is an absolute truth called gravity.
God has established the entire universe on some universal laws that are always true and can always be depended on. People who claim there are no absolutes in life get very interested in absolutes when theirs are being violated.
God describes what happens when we fall for these four destructive philosophies.
“They are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame.” Ephesians 4:17‑19 NLT
What’s the cost of living by these destructive philosophies? What’s the cost of not having any standards, values, not even agreeing with what is true right and wrong?
The Cost: COLLAPSE
All of a sudden with no God there is no truth and Jesus said it would happen.
Jesus: “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:47-49 NIV
As a result we have a collapsing culture and collapsing families.
“Where there is ignorance of God, crime runs wild.” Proverbs 29:18 TLB
Why is there so much crime, violence, gang warfare and people afraid to go out of their homes? Because of an ignorance of God. If there is no God, then there is no standard of truth and if there is no standard, anything goes!
God’s Word, the Bible, tells the truth. There’s are things in this book that are not easy to read and are not easy to do. But it is the truth, because it came from God.
Our culture is collapsing. Have you ever heard someone say, “I have to be unethical at work. I have to survive and everybody else is unethical so I have to do it too.”
Every society, culture and family has collapsed when the people decided they have to do whatever it takes. When survival becomes more important than the truth.
Today, what we’re witnessing is the flip flopping of values. What used to be called right is now being called wrong. What used to be called wrong is now being called right. What used to be called perverted is now being called sophisticated. In our society, we kill unborn babies and the elderly every day, people made in the image of God, yet many are more interested in saving turtles and bees. God is not mocked. He says, whatever you sow you’re going to reap.
“A nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order.” Proverbs 29:18 GNT
Our nation was founded on the two presuppositions from God. One is, our rights are endowed by our creator, and that we are to follow basic moral laws that He has laid out. That’s the cornerstone of our society.
We aren’t going into this next series trying to find ways to change society. Instead, we are going to figure out how to live a life of value in a world that can’t even decide what is right and wrong.
How do we raise our children and become families with basic, lasting values?
“When the foundations [of life] are undermined, what can a righteous person do?” Psalm 11:3 GWT
Anyone ready for some good news? There is a cure to a society experiencing moral decline.
The cure: REBUILD THE FOUNDATION
You can rebuild the foundation of your life, your business and your family. You can build your life on values that last and that means turning to God, because God is truth. God is honest. God is faithful. God is just. God is love.
When we are different from the character of the Creator who made us, it’s wrong. When we’re like the character of the Creator who made us, it’s right. That’s how you decide what truth is.
“God shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.” Proverbs 2:9 TLB
You can’t teach values without God and His Word.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
If God says it, it’s true. How do I know when something is truth and when it’s just an opinion?
1. Truth is universal.
If it is true, it applies to everyone, everywhere around the world in every culture. If it does not apply to everyone everywhere, it’s not truth, it’s an opinion, because truth is universal. It applies to the rich and the poor and every nationality and heritage.
2. Truth is unchanging.
It’s always the same. It doesn’t change. It is unchanging. For instance, if adultery was wrong 4,000 years ago, it was also wrong 2,000 years ago, it is wrong today and it will be wrong 2,000 years from today, no matter what anybody else says.
Truth is unchanging and it is universal. The information and science we have may change but truth doesn’t. Science is changing all the time. Your kids science book, is different than the one you used, it’s all new now.
For instance, years ago, science used to tell us the smallest particle of life is the atom. The fact is since then we’ve discovered several layers beneath that. Now we know there are even smaller things. Why is that as science changes but you don’t have to change or update the Bible? Because it’s eternal. It’s true.
“Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling.” Psalm 119:105 TLB
What’s the benefit of building my life on absolute, universal unchanging truth? If I build it on unchanging truth, I won’t stumble so much and I won’t make so many mistakes.
“Those who listen to God’s instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.” Proverbs 16:20 NLT
The bottom line is we all have a choice. What will your standard be? What’s going to be the standard by which you make decisions in life?
This is a choice only you can make. Your parents can hold you to God’s standard and discipline you for a while, and if they really love you that’s what they will do, but they can’t make the belief choice for you.
Your options include:
- An Internal Standard: ME
You can make your values based on you, what you feel and see.
- An External Standard: The World
You can go with the times and go with the crowd. If you choose whatever the world says is right and wrong, realize that in a few years it will change because fads change.
- An Eternal Standard: God’s Word
You can go with God’s way, His truth, His Word, because it is absolute, universal, and unchanging.
Starting next week we will just look at the solution, because you matter to God and your family matters to God. He wants you to build your life on something that will not collapse. He wants you to get to the end of your life and be able to say that you have no regrets becuase wht you built your life on will last.
Check back on your discussion from last week. How is the message on How God Anchors Us helping you prepare for the fall spiritual growth campaign? Any more thought or conclusion on coaching, the truth, new thinking, cleaning house, honest community and faith?
Hear the Word
Everything you do is influenced by your values. Every time you make a decision you’re relying on a set of standards to decide what to do. Just like the way you set a sail determines the direction of a sailboat, your values chart the course of your life. You have to decide in advance the direction you want your life to go. You have to decide in advance what your values will be.
Jesus: “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:47-49 NIV
- What values would you say are most significant in your community? What values would you say are most significant in your church? What values can you identify in the TV shows, movies and music you consume?
- Have you ever compromised your values because it was easier or more convenient, what was the outcome? How would you handle the situation differently today?
- Among the four destructive philosophies, which one do you find yourself leaning on the most? Individualism, secularism, materialism, relativism?
- What are the things you think will last in your life?
Tell Someone Else
Who could you invite to join you at church for the fall spiritual growth campaign? Who could you invite to a small group with you?