In the movie Groundhog Day, one scene has three men in a car. The driver, Phil, asks the others, “What if there were no tomorrow?” One responds, “No tomorrow? That would mean there would be no consequences, there would be no hangovers. We could do whatever we wanted!” Phil says, “That's true. We could do whatever we want.” Then he starts driving on railroad tracks and says, “I'm not going to live by their rules anymore.” Of course, a real philosophy like this is not just about there being “no tomorrow.” It’s about a worldview that denies God and eternity.
Paul recognizes this type of philosophy in 1 Corinthians 15:32: “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” This was a quote from Isaiah 22:13, a time in which God’s people were acting as though God was not there. They were doing what they wanted (Cf. Judges 17:6).
Though the gospel is here to redeem us from this way of thinking, the gospel is not just a moral system. Our goal in teaching the gospel is not just to get people to change from one moral system to another, because just being good morally won’t save anyone. All have sinned, and the only way to salvation is through the blood of Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). Still, morals are a part of what it means to be human, and our worldview as a whole needs to support the moral nature of mankind.
What does your worldview have to do with morality? What makes morality intelligible? Which worldview legitimately accounts for moral responsibility? What is your final, ultimate moral foundation? Here are a few thoughts:
1. We Have a Sense of Ought. Everyone has a “sense of ought.” Which foundation makes sense of our moral nature? A foundation built on random, purposeless, amoral chance or a foundation built on intention, purpose, and intelligence? What explains conscience? Right and wrong? Everyone has a line that must not be crossed; the only issue is what that standard is and where the line is to be drawn. Who decides this and why?
If we exist as the result of an intelligent God who made us in His image, our moral nature makes sense. Morality is one of the main issues that sets humans apart from the rest of creation. We don’t apply morality to animals or inanimate objects, but to people. What does your worldview have to do with your view of morality? Everything.
2. There Must be a Foundation. Without a foundation, there can be no standard for proper moral behavior. Think of trying to measure precisely without a ruler. Understanding the brokenness of humanity is rooted in the recognition that there is a unifying standard by which everything else is measured. If there is no standard, then any moral judgments are subjective and arbitrary. If that is so, then let us not hear talk of immoral behaviors, injustices, harassment, abuse, moral outrage, or anything else that would indicate that something is not as it should be. We cannot consistently deny that there is an ultimate standard, then act as though some great standard is being violated.
We know better. We know something is not right. We know there is something else to which we are accountable. There is only one standard that can be ultimate, that is contingent on nothing else, and to which all can and will be accountable, and this is the One we call God.
3. The Biblical View of Morality starts with God. God is the foundation of all (Gen 1:1). He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3). He is not just a moral being accountable to a moral standard higher than Himself. He is the standard; holiness is His nature (Lev 11:44-45).
God, as Creator, made male and female in His image (Gen. 1:26-27). Humans are moral creatures, meant to reflect God’s holy nature. Humans are morally responsible and accountable for their actions (2 Cor 5:10). Because of who God is, He has the right to tell us how to act and think. Scriptures provide principles and guidelines for moral behaviors, and failing in this is called sin. We see the effects of this in Genesis 3:5, where the lie is that we get to determine for ourselves what is right and wrong, and in the process we rebel against the character of God. That can only end badly.
A moral sense is built into who we are. Because of our failures to live up to the standard, we need forgiveness from the One whose nature we have violated. The gospel is God’s answer to this problem: through Jesus Christ we may find that forgiveness and be reconciled back to God. Our forgiveness is not based on keeping moral laws, but upon the fact that Christ died as a sacrifice for our sins so that we may, once again, live (2 Cor. 5:21). We are moral failures, and we cannot earn our way back into divine favor by doing enough good. We need Christ. Sin leaves us broken, and only Christ, through His sacrificial death, can heal these wounds with forgiveness. This is the gospel.