Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind... And that's true from the moment of conception until the moment you and I breathe our last breath. Welcome to the Wednesday edition of Renewing Your Mind.
I'm Lee Webb. We are exploring Christian ethics this week and what it means to uphold God's perfect standard of right and wrong. We're called to do that in a society that embraces moral relativism, so it's vital that we have an immovable foundation for defending the sanctity of life.
Here's Dr. Burke Parsons. Now when it comes to the whole matter of the sanctity of life, the first question we need to ask is, what are we talking about? What does that mean? I think most Christians, at least Christians in our United States, when they consider that phrase, the sanctity of life and all that comes with that, typically our minds run to one particular matter. But when we look at the phrase and we look at each word and we consider what they mean and how they come from Scripture, well, then we come to understand, of course, that sanctity, and we understand that that's related to holiness, from the old French sanctity and from the Latin sanctity means sacredness, something that's virtuous, something that is unique, something that is of value, something that is even holy. And we speak of the sanctity of life, we have to ask the question, well, what life are we talking about? That's an important question, because depending on the context, depending on where we live and what culture we're in, or what religion we're surrounded by, if we're in India and you say, I believe in the sanctity of life, many Hindus are going to think that you may very well be thinking about their sacred, or should I say holy, cow. Because for the Hindu, the cow is a sacred being. You can look throughout all the ancient religions through ancient Egypt and you can see examples of sacred goats, even sacred snakes, sacred dogs, sacred elephants. Notice I didn't mention the sacred cat. Now, people at St. Andrews know I like to make fun of cats, but the truth of the matter is I actually do love cats.
I've heard that they're delicious. In reality, in reality, the Egyptians loved the cat. In fact, some of the ancient Egyptians, when they were mummified and entombed, they would have their cats mummified and entombed right alongside them. So, when we talk about the sanctity of life, what are we talking about? Well, we, of course, understand the purpose of animals and plant life. We know why God gave them to us.
But there's a reason when it comes to animals, people, whatever their religion is, they don't use the same terminology that they use in speaking of human beings. I have ants in my yard, and I don't want ants in my yard. I know that ants are important and necessary for life on planet Earth. But I don't want ants, we don't want ants where our children, where your grandchildren are playing.
And so, when we go to the store to buy ant killer, we get the expensive ant killer that promises to wipe out the queen and the entire colony. But when we spread that ant killer all over our yards, we don't call it genocide, do we? Because all of humanity understands that there is something significant about human life. Whatever their religion might be, whatever they might invent, whatever they might create to defend their inventions and their religions, every human being understands naturally innately that there is something unique and sacred and special about human life. This is why the world gets in an outrage when missiles strike civilians, maternity wards.
And when they strike mother and children, or even mothers who are about to give birth, the world is outraged. Because there's something that God put in each and every human being that we know that there is something special about human life that is distinct from all other life on Earth. And when we speak of the sanctity of life, what we are speaking of is the dignity that God has placed upon life. Now, I hear this all the time.
R.C. and I talked about it over the years, it drove him absolutely nuts. When he heard, well meaning, what he thought were thoughtful Christians, people who knew better or should have known better, would say something like this. That we as human beings have inherent dignity. That all human beings have a dignity or a value or a worth or even that all human beings are sacred intrinsically or inherently. It inheres within us and it comes from within us when the Bible teaches throughout that the dignity we possess doesn't come from within. The dignity we have comes from the only place it can possibly come from, namely from the only one who is set apart, the only one who is dignified, the only one who is holy and sacred, God himself. Our holiness, our sacredness, our dignity is given to us, it is assigned to us by God. It's not something that comes from within.
You know what comes from within? Rebellion, sin, depravity, and making ourselves to be the enemies of God. God is the one who assigns to human beings dignity and the reason he does so is as my colleague Steve Nichols argued yesterday morning, all of humanity are made in the image of God. God calls us to preserve life and protect life and he gives us very particular laws for how we can go about that. In Exodus 21, look there at verse 16, whoever steals a man and sells him and anyone found in possession of him shall be put to death. Well, at that time and throughout all of world history, man stealing and man selling and man enslaving was very common. God says we'll have none of that. Stealing men and kidnapping and selling them and owning them is against God's law because the enslavement of men by the powerful against the weak is wrong. It does not rightly understand and grasp the dignity of all human beings. Whether you knew it or not, the slavery that we're seeing today, what's oftentimes referred to as trafficking, which doesn't quite get at the whole frame of what we're dealing with in trafficking, both human trafficking, sex trafficking, it's really enslavement, but it's the stealing, the selling, and the trading, and the bartering, and the ownership of human beings all over the world.
And it's far greater today than it's ever been in all world history. Look with me at verse 18. Verse 18, when men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and the man does not die but takes to his bed, then if the man rises again and walks outdoors with his staff, he who struck him shall be clear, and only he shall pay for the loss of his time and shall have him thoroughly healed.
Now here the Lord is teaching us something that we all know. You don't hit someone, you don't throw a rock at them, and you don't strike someone. Well that certainly applies not only between men, but also between a man and a woman, or a man and a child, or a woman and a man and a woman and a child. And so God is teaching us that physical abuse and physical harm is wrong.
Domestic violence is wrong. Now this doesn't need to be said, but what we see here in Scripture is God making very clear laws for how human beings are to be treated and not treated. Now look with me at verse 22. When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Now some of you right now are perhaps saying, that's awfully harsh. But do you understand what God is communicating to us here? He's acknowledging very clearly, because everyone knew, just as everyone knows now, that a woman who is pregnant, ready for this?
Has another human being or other human beings living inside of her. Isn't that amazing? Now everyone knows this. It's just like the so-called atheists. There are no real atheists.
Every atheist knows God exists. They just hate God. They don't want to acknowledge God. They despise God. They can't stand the fact that they know He exists deep down within their hearts. That's why I always refer to them as so-called atheists, and so-called all of these crazy people who want to try to convince us that the child in a mother's womb is not a child or is not a human being.
Oh, stop it. I'm not even going to get an argument with them, because it's so ridiculous to argue something that is clear. They have their own brain. They have their own heart. They have their own legs. They have their own fingers. They have their own eyes. They have their own souls. And everyone knows it. Now, in talking about all these things and God's care for humanity and dignity that He places upon us and how we are to care for one another and how we are to do good to our neighbor and how we are to care for the poor by leaving, if you will, the fields ungleamed to the edges, what we are to do for our neighbor, what we are to do for the sojourner, the tendency is for people to walk away saying, now wait a second, that sounds an awful lot like social justice.
We need to make something really clear. Is God concerned about society? Is God concerned about what happens socially in our communities, in our neighborhoods, in our cities, in our states, in our nations? Well, of course He is. And is God concerned about justice being done in our communities, in our states, in our nations and so on? Well, of course He is. Is God concerned for justice socially?
Of course He is. He is concerned for justice in the family. He is concerned for justice in the state. He is concerned for justice in the courtroom. and He's concerned for justice in the church.
God gives us laws and principles and teaches us why and how we should be just and fair and right. The problem with social justice, and when I say social justice, I'm talking about capital S, capital J, and the movement, which again is another sort of self-made religion. Now again, the world's had this. The world's had the social gospel, whatever that means. The world's had their terms and views of social justice for decades. Again, the problem is, is that the church is now welcoming them in.
And not just welcoming them in, but giving them the platform. And the problem with the social justice movement, so many of those who espouse it are in fact not espousing what is in fact justice, because redistributive justice isn't just. Retributive justice isn't just. Reparative justice isn't just. I am grieved by the sins of our forefathers.
They make me angry. But my children and grandchildren should not be taxed to say, I'm sorry for the sins of men generations ago that were more following the customs and the traditions and the mores of their day than they were the principles of the Word of God. God tells us that we're not to show partiality at all. We're to treat each and every person with dignity. It doesn't matter their socioeconomic or ethnic background. We are to regard them with respect and honor.
We're not to look down upon any people because of where they're from and what they look like and what language they speak. Now if they've done evil, they need to be dealt with justly. But as creatures made in the image of God, we are to look at each and every human being and we are to say, you have the image of God upon you and thus you have the dignity that is owed you as a human being made in the image of God. We as Christians ought to be those who are fighting and defending for the rights of all human beings, especially the most defenseless among us. Paul says, do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith. We see Jesus in Luke chapter 10 tell us the story, the parable of the Good Samaritan. We all know that story, I trust, and it's a beautiful story and He's really answering the question, if you recall, who's my neighbor? And Jesus tells him a story about a Good Samaritan, and the Jews despised the Samaritans. The Samaritans despised the Jews, but it was a Samaritan who stopped by and helped and didn't just help, didn't just do lowest common denominator help.
He actually was generous and cared for that man that was hurt by the side of the road beyond what he needed to. In Matthew 25, verses 31 and following, Jesus says, when the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another.
His shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will place the sheep on His right but the goats on His left, and the King will say to those on His right, come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me food. I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed Me. I was naked, and you clothed Me. I was sick, and you visited Me. I was in prison, and you came to Me. Verse 37, then the righteous will answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, and naked and clothe You?
And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You? And the King will answer Him, truly I say to You, as You did it to one of the least of these, My brothers, You did it to Me." This isn't novel.
This isn't new. This is something that the early church apologists defended the church against their persecutors. The Calvin and the Reformers defended themselves and the persecuted Protestants saying, look at our behavior. Look at what we do. Look at the good that we do. We rescue babies. We care for the sick. We give alms to the poor.
We work hard with our hands so that we might lead quiet and peaceable lives. Calvin said, look at your subjects. Look at how good they are.
Look at how good they are in what they do. Christians are to be a good people. We are to be a people who do good things for others. Jesus says in Matthew chapter 5, very plainly, you're the light of the world.
You're the salt of the earth. Do your good deeds, your good works before men so that they might see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. But in Matthew 6, 1, He warns them, don't do your good deeds in order to be seen by men because then you'll have no reward. We don't want to be like the hypocrites, the Pharisees who did their works in public in order to be seen by men. No, but we are to be a people who do good and shine as a light to the world, but we must understand that in all the good that we do, in all the good works that we do, in all those that we care for, the widows and the orphans and all the good that we do, ultimately society and the world is not transformed by our good deeds, but only by the gospel. Our good deeds are an expression of our resting in the good news and the gospel of Jesus Christ as we look to the One who did the good deeds, who fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law of God so that we might, through His substitutionary life and death, might have life abundant. And in that life abundant, we are able to care for the least of these, and in doing so, in one sense, we are giving glory to Christ. But in our country, we slaughter the least of these. I know many dear ladies, and I know that there are very likely some here who still to this day experience the pain and even the shame of abortion.
I know that there are men here who forced their ladies to have an abortion, and I'm truly sad for the pain that you feel knowing that you have hope and you have forgiveness through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. And I know how hard it is for some of you, as much as you've told me, as much as I can possibly understand, which I know I can't, yet we as God's people must not cease being angry and demonstrating with our mouths and our pocketbooks real and sustained outrage at the barbaric, heinous onslaught of children in what used to be the safest place in the world. The soft, warm, protective womb of the mother has now become the greatest war zone in the world.
At the base of the Statue of Liberty is a plaque, a portion of a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus and her son at the new colossus. You know the words, you're tired, you're weak, you're huddled masses yearning to breathe free. If you ask those babies in the womb all they want just to be able to breathe free. If you look closely at the Statue of Liberty through the lens of the dignity of human beings and the sanctity of life that God commends to us in His Word, you will not only see the torch that the Lady of Liberty is holding in her right hand, but you'll see a knife in her left hand, a knife that is killing thousands of children each and every day from the time this talk began to this moment.
More than 6,000 children around the world have been mutilated. We must not grow accustomed to what has become acceptable in our culture, and the world might think we're a bunch of crazy nuts, yet we, to the day we die, must and always fight for the rights of the most defenseless people in our country, these little babies who just want to breathe free. But dearly beloved, the goal is not just that we would rescue them from those who are inconvenienced by their children through state-sanctioned murder, but that they would come and breathe and that we would go to them and we'd tell them the only thing that will give them true life, that they might be with us one day in heaven singing the praises of God and saying, O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. Dr. Burke Parsons has shown us today how God's Word helps us navigate the moral confusion in our culture.
This week on Renewing Your Mind, we are featuring messages from the 2022 Ligonier National Conference. Our focus was on upholding Christian ethics. Each of our speakers showed us how a biblical ethic prepares us to stand for the truth, to love our neighbors well, and to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Those are core tenets of the Christian faith, and they describe why R.C. Sproul began Ligonier Ministries more than 50 years ago, to teach as many people as possible about God and His holiness. Recently, Bill called us to tell us the impact that R.C. and Ligonier Ministries have had on his life. As a young boy, I was abused by a Roman Catholic priest, and Dr. Sproul's teachings of the gospel and the truth of Christ changed my life and took away my hate, discontent, and bitterness for life, and renewed my mind with the new beginning of love and peace with the truth of Christ. I wrote Dr. Sproul a letter of my testimony I shared with him, and he wrote me back personally, which I was blown away. And then I had the privilege to meet Dr. Sproul personally. So I just want to thank Ligonier Ministries, and Dr. Sproul's message through podcasts, internet, is alive and well, and I've shared his ministry with many, many people.
Thanks so much, and keep doing what you guys do. Bill, if you're listening, thank you for sharing that with us. No matter the pain, no matter the abuse, the gospel brings joy. It brings peace. Bill's story is encouraging to us.
Ligonier resources are now translated into many languages, and it's estimated that nearly 50 million people every year interact with Ligonier resources. That's astonishing, isn't it, to know that the unchanging truth of God's Word is going around the world. We're able to do all of this because of your ongoing support. Your gift of any amount today will provide the fuel necessary to keep producing, translating, and distributing sound biblical teaching. So would you give a gift today when you call us at 800-435-4343?
If you prefer, you can give your donation online at renewingyourmind.org. And in advance, on behalf of all of my colleagues here at Ligonier Ministries, thank you. Tomorrow we'll return to the 2022 Ligonier National Conference for a message by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson. He'll point us to the glorious future that awaits all believers. So I hope you'll join us Thursday for Renewing Your Mind. God bless. God bless.
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