The Error of Situation Ethics (continued from preceding issue)

The natural man cannot fulfill this law. Already in Israel, the law was a taskmaster which drove them to Christ,Gal. 3:24. No man can keep the law of himself, “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law are a law unto themselves,” Rom. 2:14. Even for Israel, the law itself could not save, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight for by the law is the knowledge of sin,” Rom. 3:20. The law shows us our sins; and by the grace of God we are humbled to seek our salvation outside of ourselves in Jesus Christ, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Rom. 3:28. Through this faith in Christ, we do not reproach the law, we do not say that the law has no meaning for us; we see that only in keeping the law by grace through the work of the Holy Spirit, have we fellowship with God. In the words of Paul, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law,”Rom. 3:31

This law has two aspects, the outward form and the inward spirit. This includes the outward deed as well as the inward motivation. These two are inseparably connected. Situationists show their ignorance of the Word of God when they attack the law of God as being a mere code. Jesus made plain that the sin of adultery is not just the deed, but the inward attitude as well, cf.Matt. 5:27, 28. Paul continues this same thought in II Cor. 3:6, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament, not of the letter but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” The letter without the spirit kills; the two must be taken together. Much of the outward “letter” was fulfilled in the coming of Christ, but the spirit which applied to the moral aspect continued. 

If one has a wrong idea of law, it stands to reason such an one will also have a wrong idea of love. Here too, the situationist is entirely in error. Their idea of love is purely humanistic. It is brotherhood, not love expressed to a personal God directly by the keeping of His law and indirectly by loving the neighbor. Their idea of love begins and ends in man himself. 

The tragedy is that the natural man, who cannot keep the law of God, cannot love either God or the. neighbor. John explains this in his first epistle, especially the second chapter. Of the world he says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” The situationist wants to apply “love” to every man and vainly imagines that every man has the capacity to exercise this love. He obviously rejects the Scriptural idea of total depravity of the natural man. A morality based upon the innate goodness of man’s love is bound to end in utter chaos; and, the God of righteousness shall laugh at them with His derision, for He shall bring all this into judgment. 

Only the children of God have the power to love. Without the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, we hate, only hate. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” I John 4:10. This love is applied in our heart by the Holy Spirit, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,”Rom. 5:5

This love is not expressed in some vague way of loving people. This love is expressed most intimately in the way of obedience. This obedience is expressed in doing what God commands us to do in His Word. Scripture is full of such references. James 1:25, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” Consider I John 2:4, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” 

This applies to all of God’s moral law. The way that Israel was instructed to express their love of God is the same for the New Testament church. Christ’s summary of Matt. 22:37-39 is not a distillation, but a compendium. Proof of this is seen in that elsewhere in the New Testament, warnings are given of all the sins enumerated in the ten commandments. Consider Gal. 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these, adultery, fornication. . . idolatry. . . murders . . . drunkenness . . . but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. . . and they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit.” The Word of God doesn’t say adultery is wrong under certain situations, we are warned against all adultery, both in thought and deed. This same thing is true with respect to all other sins. 

It is our privilege to view the law of God not as a bond of slavery, but as a sphere of liberty. Freedom in Christ is not freedom from the law of God, but it is the freedom of grace to be made able to begin to keep, not some, but all the laws of God. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free,” Gal. 5:1

May God give us grace to be able to reject the apostate morality of the situationists and hold to the faithful observance of God’s holy law and express our gratitude to him by loving obedience in every situation. 

Only then is God glorified through covenant young people.