We are all familiar with the idea of a standard. Perhaps the most common standard is the ruler, a flat stick of wood on which is inscribed twelve numbers sequentially, evenly spaced at regular intervals. The entire ruler is known as a “foot.” The smaller divided spaces as “inches.” In the construction industry, this standard is critical for consumers to know exactly the amount of product they are receiving. Were a construction worker to depart from this standard and provide less, the consumer would balk at the product and cry foul, and rightly so. So also, one would be upset were he to receive a ticket for running a green light, get charged for a gallon of milk when he only bought half a gallon, or get an “F” on a test on which he missed no questions. We expect agreed upon standards to go unaltered.
While the above conventions are humanly devised, it is a fundamental mistake to say that all standards are simply the product of human invention. The implication of such a notion is that Nazi Germany was not wrong in its extermination of seven million Jews. Neither could Stalin have been wrong when he intentionally starved to death six to eight million Ukrainians in the early 1930s. If all standards are humanly devised, then standards of right and wrong must be humanly devised as well. If such is the case, then no higher standard than humanity itself could judge an action to be wrong. That implies that if humanity (or a certain contingent thereof) agrees upon it, it must be right, regardless of how atrocious it may be. Such is the quagmire into which one wades when he leaves heaven out of his thinking.
Indeed, in order to escape the morass of problems that results from the notion that humans invent morals, one must appeal to a standard of morality that is above and beyond humanity. The Bible sets forth God as the source of all things morally praiseworthy, and the ultimate standard for right and wrong (Luke 18:19, James 1:17). This means that heaven holds my standards and ideals for morality and right living. How does heaven reveal this message to me?
First, God reveals the standard for right living through the life and person of Jesus who is the Christ, God in the flesh. Jesus reveals to us who God truly is (John 1:18), teaches us what God’s will is (John 7:17), and provides for us a perfect example for how to live (1 Peter 2:21). Titus 2:11-12 says of Jesus, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”
Second, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to His apostles and prophets to guide them into all truth (John 16:13). These apostles were inspired by God’s Spirit to preach, teach, and write the things which they saw and heard of the life of Jesus (John 14:26). These men of God spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). When they wrote these things down so that others could read them, they revealed the very mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:12-13). We may understand what they wrote, and apply them to our lives as we seek to live in a morally praiseworthy way (Ephesians 3:3-4).
Third, as I seek God within my life, I must handle the scriptures in a responsible way. Paul told Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). I must be honest with the evidence that is presented (Luke 8:15). I must make personal application of the truths of the word of God to my life (James 1:21-27). I must not wrest the scriptures to my own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).
It is not the case that a single human, a group of humans, or the whole of humanity are the standard for right and wrong. Each person must look to heaven, wherein dwells righteousness (2 Peter 3:13), for his standards and ideals. Indeed, heaven holds all to me!