Shifting Standards

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We need standards in order to live by them.

Scriptures of the Day:

Exodus 32:1-8

1 “When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Get up, make us gods that will go before us. As for this fellow Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him!” 2 So Aaron said to them, “Break off the gold earrings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the gold earrings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow will be a feast to the LORD.” 6 So they got up early on the next day and offered up burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play. 7 “The LORD spoke to Moses: “Go quickly, descend, because your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. 8 They have quickly turned aside from the way that I commanded them–they have made for themselves a molten calf and have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt.'”

Standards. Where would we be without them? Standards shift like the sands of time when we try to find a standard to fit our lifestyle. Changing God’s standards can lead to big trouble . . .

Taking off their earrings, they told the man of God to make a god. From gold. I don’t know about you, but the thought of bowing down to a gold calf does not inspire me. But perhaps other idols we might not so readily recognize invite us to do the same.

Taking off their earrings, they told the man of God to make a god. From gold. I don’t know about you, but the thought of bowing down to a gold calf does not inspire me. But perhaps other idols we might not so readily recognize invite us to do the same.

Every time I read this passage from Exodus there is always something different I come away with. There are the obvious takeaways of poor leadership in the face of peer pressure or an example of how important it is to maintain a fear of the LORD. But this time my heart is focused on what happened before the Israelite people bowed down to a god (or calf, holy cow, lol!) fashioned from gold. What preceded this moment of great compromise matters just as much as the sin itself. Sin happens by degrees. Little by little, we alter the standards God has set and open the door to larger compromise.

The Israelites had seen God provide. They had seen Him deliver them. They promised to fully obey. But little by little the testings of this life would reveal some attitudes of their hearts that contributed to their sin.

Character is formed in the subtleties of life. Which way will we take at the fork in the road when God’s standard is on one side and the other has an appealing option that seems “good enough”? To the Israelites, they could surely rationalize that they were seeking to worship. Their way. But hey, it was still “religious”.

Right before the Israelites chose to dishonor God and worship a false God fashioned by Aaron’s hands, God was speaking to Moses about how His people would deal with a Holy God. There were standards that had to be met to protect the people, less they be consumed. How ironic that God’s people were committing such a heinous sin at the same time.

How like us. Mankind wants to be “right”, so in an attempt to be acceptable, we choose to redefine the boundary lines. As if we really had a say on God’s Holy standards. Oh, I know, I have heard the Old Testament arguments – as if God has changed and the Old Testament does not apply to us at all. The flaw in this thinking, though, is that the same God stated in the New Testament that Christ fulfilled the Old Testament law – and not the least stroke of a letter of the law would disappear. Sure, we do not live by Levitical law, and we are now under grace – but that does not mean God’s holiness has changed. So, what causes shifting standards? Perhaps if we recognize the slow drift, we can course correct before we have strayed far from the path God has for us.

Reasoning. Or better called, “Rationalization”, when we opt for our understanding over God’s wisdom, it spells trouble. God’s Word is our counsel and He promises to give us wisdom. Will we ask?

Abusing grace. The excuse, “I’m only human” does not cut it when our God already paid for every sin with His own blood. Such an amazing grace was not given so we could abuse it. Instead, we humbly accept such grace and want to follow the boundaries our Savior has set. We were bought with a price.

In Good Company. Everyone else Is Doing it. Even Christians. And? So? What does that mean? If the whole world were going against God’s standards, would that make God’s laws obsolete? I don’t think so.

Humanism. If it feels good, do it. Nope. Worst counsel ever. If it seems good to our carnal minds, flee!

All Things to all people. This Scripture has been taken out of context so many times. I have been judged for not drinking and told I should have had a drink to make people feel better around me. Why? I do not judge others when they drink. Why am I judged when I exercise the freedom not to? Being all things to all people to reach people does not mean accommodating sin in our own life. What is permissible to another person might not be for us. John the Baptist could not drink, Jesus could. So it is with us. But there are some choices we make that clearly are sin. To sin to make others feel better is clearly not right.

Relevant. Trust me, there is nothing new underneath the sun. The same sin problems today were plaguing God’s people thousands of years ago. And our same Holy God still hates sin. Clear-cut sins, as well as worldliness, were all happening thousands of years ago. I am hitting a raw nerve here, I know. It is evidently taboo to not condone getting a piercing in abnormal locations or a tattoo. We cannot say that cursing is wrong, either. We are told to be accepting. Tolerant. (Except for Christians, of course).

Friends, we can accept everyone and share the grace of God with all, but that acceptance does not mean we alter what God’s word has said. This is likely a major rabbit trail, here, but since I brought up the “T” word, I want to make sure people understand that I am not characterizing tattoos in any worse a light than any other worldly behavior. The motivation behind our actions is what matters. If we are seeking to be relevant to all, we will be relevant to none. Daring to live differently in a fallen world is what the world needs to see. Not copycats trying to walk on both sides of the fence.

Worldliness. Worldliness is adopting the mindset of the world. When we seek to look just like the world, we become worldly. When we seek to become like God, we become godly. When I am unsure whether or not something is pleasing to God, I try to imagine my Savior doing or saying what I am contemplating. It is not legalistic to want to ascribe to God’s holiness (which we never could apart from His grace), but it is what he expects of us.

Guys – when we try to be “cool” Christians, maybe the world needs to see instead a loving people who live out God’s precepts yet don’t judge anyone around them. These peculiar people recognize there is nothing good in themselves, but they yearn for God’s holiness. They don’t waste time trying to quarrel about what “freedoms” they think we should have. Who cares? Instead, they eagerly want those around everyone to get saved – tattoos, piercings and all.

There can be no judgment that we have toward anyone else in this world. None. But God’s standards still stand, either way. So, yeah, I don’t believe getting a tattoo is a godly thing to do, but neither are a great many other deeds committed daily by Christians. All fall short of God’s glory. All need grace. But we don’t encourage one another to fall short. We exhort one another to seek to be Holy as God is Holy – and God’s standards still stand.

Paul said “May it never be” that we would continue sinning. Sin is defined in Scripture. God did not leave us without a clear standard. The Holy Spirit whispers it to the core of our inner being – our soul. Confusion comes in when we rationalize to get our way. Our vision becomes clouded when we look to man instead of God’s word. May we never relish or encourage others to engage in a worldly behavior because it is “ok” in our eyes. God wants us to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh daily, moment by moment, and choose grace and godliness instead. Not grace to sin, but grace to abstain from sin. A higher standard set by a perfect God Who can enable us to please Him.

So many times people use excuses touting the freedom we have in Christ as if the freedom Christ has given us was to disobey God’s way. Uh, no. We have freedom to refrain from sin! There is forgiveness when we are worldly. We are to be in the world but not of it. But the world and its influences rub off on us over time. For the record, I continually see this influence in my own life and in my family that needs to be rooted out. None of us arrive down here, but we need standards in order to live by them.

Discover Hope for the Day:

God has not left us without standards and will enable us to live by them.


Lord, thank You that You never change. Help us to live in a way that pleases you and to extend grace to others around us, too, with the grace we have received. May we not make excuses but seek to honor You with every aspect of our lives.



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