Right Living at All Times

Tuesday: Pursuing God’s Goal

Romans 12:17 In this study, we are reminded of the need to live according to God’s standard of right and wrong.
Pursuing God’s Goal

It is evident that if we are to pursue what is “good,” “true,” “right,” “honest” or “beautiful” in life, there must be something “good,” “true,” “right,” “honest” or “beautiful” to pursue. And this means that there must be absolutes. Otherwise, we would be looking for something that is not there, and looking for something that does not exist is insanity. This is exactly the problem, of course, and it is why America is experiencing its present “values vacuum” or “morals morass,” as Time magazine wrote a few years back.1 In other words, our problem is relativism. 

You will recall that this is what Allan Bloom said so powerfully in his exposure of the failure of American higher education during the decades of the seventies and eighties, called The Closing of the American Mind.2 Bloom is a Platonist, or at least he shares the educational goals of the Greek philosophers. He wants to pursue the “good.” He thinks that is what higher education is all about. But today, he says, people no longer believe that there is a higher, absolute truth or good to be discovered, especially in education, and as a result, the whole educational enterprise is in chaos. 

In order to pursue a goal, there must be a goal. To have a strong moral society, we must have moral absolutes. Otherwise, all we can have is what is pragmatic or expedient, which is what education, politics and American life as a whole has come to. It is why we do not have any heroes today and why we do not have any moral leadership in the country. 

A generation or two ago there were heroes, people like Charles Lindberg, Babe Ruth, Henry Ford, Douglas MacArthur, George Washington Carver and many others. Today’s heroes are only television stars, and they are not actually heroes; they are only celebrities—people like Michael Jackson and Madonna. 

Why are there no heroes? The Day America Told the Truth says, “There are no heroes because we have ceased to believe in anything strongly enough to be impressed by its attainment.”3 Now that’s a sad fact. And we who are to be salt and light in our culture must live differently. We must have strong convictions of what is right and wrong. And, with God’s unchanging Word as our guidebook, this is possible. 

1Time, May 25, 1987, 14. 

2Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987). 

3James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth: What People Really Believe About Everything That Really Matters (New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1991), 208. 

Study Questions
  1. How is relativism a problem for us as we seek to do good?
  2. Why are moral absolutes necessary?
  3. Why do we have so few heroes today?

Reflection: What forms the foundation for society’s ideas of right and wrong, or at least of what behavior is proper and improper?

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Philip Ryken’s message, “The Law and the Gospel.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

Tagged under
More Resources from James Montgomery Boice

Subscribe to the Think & Act Biblically Devotional

Alliance of Confessional Evangelicals

About the Alliance

The Alliance is a coalition of believers who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today’s Church.

Canadian Donors

Canadian Committee of The Bible Study Hour
PO Box 24087, RPO Josephine
North Bay, ON, P1B 0C7