This interactive sample chapter has been edited and reformatted from lesson 3 of a new Men’s Bible Study from RBP, A Man and His Ethics by John Greening.
Rebellion against God is a choice—one we face every day.
hether you realize it or not, a set of ethical standards guides your life. It influences the decision-making process that continually operates within you, directing your thoughts, words, and behavior. This set of ethical standards comes from your life experiences as well as from your God-given sense of morality.
Think for a moment about the code of morality by which you live. Several outside factors have been influencing you. They have come from people such as your parents, family members, schoolteachers, pastors, Sunday School teachers, and friends and from things such as music, television, books, and legislative laws. Each of these influences espouses a particular view of right and wrong.
Within you exists another significant moral influence. You have an instinctive sense of moral right and wrong that comes directly from God. The Bible suggests that Gentiles (non-Jews), who did not receive the law of God as did the Jews, were still responsible to God because they had the work of the law written on their hearts (Romans 2:12–16). All of mankind possesses this inherent moral code. Some individuals choose to ignore this code; others choose to heed it.
Your spiritual condition has a bearing on your moral decision making. Have you considered your spiritual life lately? Do you have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ? If so, do you allow the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within you, to achieve His purpose in your life? Or are you hindering the Holy Spirit’s work because of sin you are harboring?
Though an unsaved person may make a moral decision that is consistent with God’s guidelines, this person’s choice does not win him merit with God. The Bible explains that good works are not the means by which people are saved (Ephesians 2:8, 9). It is only through faith in God’s gracious act of forgiveness, extended through Christ’s sacrifice for your sins, that you can be saved and begin a new life, empowered by God to live in a manner that is pleasing to Him.
God’s desire is that you give the greatest weight to His view of right and wrong when choosing your thoughts, words, and actions. We must be diligent students of the Bible if we are to understand right and wrong from God’s perspective. The following three Biblical accounts offer lessons from which you can learn about God’s moral guidelines.
Genesis 8:20–22 records Noah’s actions after the worldwide flood. When the floodwaters subsided, Noah constructed an altar on which he offered a burnt offering to the Lord. The Lord assured Noah that He would never again curse the ground or destroy all living things as He had done by that flood. God gave Noah a rainbow as a sign to remind him and subsequent generations that God would honor His promise.
1. What moral capacity of man did God acknowledge (Genesis 8:21)?
2. What moral commands did God institute (Genesis 9:1–7)?
God was well aware of the potential that man possessed for thinking and doing evil. It was necessary for God to create moral boundaries within which He expected man to live.
3. As a result of your study of the moral guidance God communicated to Noah and his family (Genesis 9:1–7), what ethical questions are raised for the following areas of life?
(a) Family (v. 1)
(b) Animals (vv. 2, 3)
(c) Diet (vv. 3, 4)
(d) Dignity of human life (vv. 5, 6)
God wants you to think carefully about your actions in each of these areas. The entire Bible must be considered to determine the proper moral decisions God wants you to make. The intent of this study is not to address the specifics of these areas but to illustrate the need to use the Word to discover God’s ethics by which you are to live.
4. How has mankind shifted away from God’s moral guidelines in these areas?
(a) Family (1 Timothy 4:1–3; Romans 1:26, 27)
(b) Animals (Romans 1:21–23)
(c) Diet (1 Timothy 4:3–5)
(d) Dignity of human life (James 4:1, 2)
God used an unflattering experience from Noah’s life to provide moral guidance and to highlight the consequences of not following God’s standards.
Read Genesis 9:20–27.
5. What did Noah do as a result of his drunkenness?
6. What can drunkenness cause people to do?
Though specifics are not included in this account, it states that Noah drank enough wine to become drunk. Ham found his father lying naked in a drunken stupor. Rather than covering his father, Ham left the tent and shared the information with his brothers, possibly thinking they might be interested in the sordid details. In contrast to Ham, his brothers acted discreetly in covering their father.
7. What were the consequences or blessings that resulted from their moral choices (Genesis 9:24–27)?
8. What influence can a father’s drunkenness have on his family?
9. Based on the experience of Noah, what would be the wisest course of action for you to take toward alcoholic beverages?
As God acknowledged in Genesis 8:21, man’s heart has the capacity to generate evil thoughts and actions. In regard to sin, you are not an island to yourself. Your actions affect others’ lives.
10. Name the people who are impacted by your actions, whether good or bad.
11. When faced with making a moral decision, how should thoughts of friends, coworkers, or family influence your course of action?
At the beginning of Genesis 9, Noah stood united with his sons as God conveyed to them His moral expectations. The Bible account is a touching scene of a family considering the morals by which they will live. Through that flood experience God recognized Noah as a man of faith to whom He extended His favor. However the account later depicts a quite different scene of a family damaged and divided due to their poor moral choices. Don’t make the mistake of violating God’s moral standards. The tragic consequences will produce only pain and shame.
Trouble at the Tower
As the human population began to grow after the Flood, the nomadic people found a pleasant place to live in Shinar.
12. What did the people propose to build (Genesis 11:1–4)?
13. What was the reason for proposing that colossal construction project (Genesis 11:4)?
14. How did this plan violate the responsibility God had given man to “fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28; 9:1)?
15. How did God react to the plan (Genesis 11:5–9)?
16. What threat did that cooperative project pose from God’s perspective (Genesis 11:6)?
The potential one person has for devising evil out of his heart is compounded when many people come together. The tower of Babel was not simply an attempt at architectural achievement; it was a self-promoting effort to displace God as the authority. God knew that if He permitted man to continue devising his own plans, the human race would be acting as it had prior to the Flood—concocting all kinds of evil.
17. What did the poor moral choices of the people of Babel cost them in terms of the unity they had hoped to achieve (Genesis 11:6–9)?
The track record of sin shows that it does not bring people together. Sin divides people, often resulting in bitter disputes.
18. What examples from families or current events demonstrate that poor moral choices divide rather than unite people?
A Legacy of Faith and Failure
Genesis contains the accounts of Abraham and his descendants, the family of Jews that became the focus of God’s special attention. These accounts offer many lessons related to morals. The Bible is a candid presentation of the moral strengths and weaknesses of great heroes of the faith.
19. What scheme did Abram devise in an attempt to protect himself (Genesis 12:10–13)?
20. What moral decisions of right or wrong did Abram make (Genesis 12:10–16)?
21. What consequence occurred in Pharaoh’s household as a result of Abram’s decision (Genesis 12:17–20)?
22. What was Pharaoh’s moral code in regard to a man’s word (Genesis 12:18–20)?
23. What action did Pharaoh take when he learned the truth about Abram’s wife, Sarai (Genesis 12:19, 20)?
24. What recurring problem regarding truthfulness occurred in Genesis 20?
25. What pattern of untruthfulness surfaced in Abraham’s family and descendants?
(a) Sarah, Abraham’s wife (Genesis 18:10–15)
(b) Isaac, Abraham’s son (Genesis 26:6–10)
(c) Jacob, Abraham’s grandson (Genesis 27)
(d) Laban, Abraham’s grandson’s uncle (Genesis 29:1–30)
(e) Joseph’s brothers, Abraham’s great grandsons (Genesis 37:12–36)
26. What does this account teach about the importance of truthfulness?
A wise man will learn not only from his own failures but also from those of others. Pause and ask God to help you face your moral failures. He wants you to learn to make decisions according to His standards.
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