Christian Ethics

SERMON TOPIC: Christian Ethics

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 8 November 2023

Topic Groups: ETHICS

Sermon synopsis: Christian ethics is also referred to as moral theology.
It incorporates natural law ethics, which is built on the belief that it is the very nature of humans – created in the image of God and capable of morality, cooperation, rationality, discernment and so on – that informs how life should be lived, and that awareness of sin does not require special revelation.
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Our ethical beliefs help us decide what's right and wrong, how to live a good life, and how to be a good person. Each of us is guided by our own set of ethical principles, and these principles can vary widely depending on our religious and spiritual beliefs. *

* https:// ethics-vs-morals-from-the-christian-perspective-12086884.html


Many people view religion and ethics as inseparable, but ethics can and do exist apart from religious belief. Paul writes of pagans:

Rom 2:15 (NIV) They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.


Christian ethics is also referred to as moral theology.

It incorporates natural law ethics, which is built on the belief that it is the very nature of humans – created in the image of God and capable of morality, cooperation, rationality, discernment and so on – that informs how life should be lived, and that awareness of sin does not require special revelation. **

** https:// wiki/ Christian_ethics * https:// ethics-vs-morals-from-the-christian-perspective-12086884.html


Christianity morality should not be influenced by the ever-changing ideas of morality in the world.

Rom 12:2 (NLT) Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

According to the Christian perspective, morality shouldn’t differ from person to person. For Christians, morals and ethics should be absolute standards set by God. For some Christians, not only murder, theft, and adultery, but coveting, idolatry, homosexuality and other actions or lifestyles are considered immoral because of absolute proscriptions set by the Bible. *

* Ethics Vs. Morals From the Christian Perspective -

Sometimes we must make an instant decision, with no time to ponder God’s will in the situation (e.g. Joseph in Genesis 39). If we have more time to decide on a course of action, we can consider at least 12 possible sources of information and guidance:

The Bible

The Holy Spirit

Our consciences



The laws of the country

Advice from godly people

The example of godly people

Writings of godly people

Knowledge of the facts of the particular situation

Knowledge of ourselves

Knowledge of God’s character




Heb 13:18 (ESV) … for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honourably in all things.

Advice from godly people

1 Thess 4:1-2 (NIV) … we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

The example of godly people

1 Thess 1:5-6 (NIV) … You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord…


Knowledge of God’s character: The basis for Christian ethics is the moral character of God, which is supremely good.

His moral standards for human beings flow from his moral character, and therefore they apply to all people in all cultures for all of history (although the Bible also contains many temporary commands intended only for specific people at a specific time). God is love, so he commands us to love (1 John 4:19). He is holy, and he commands us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15). He is merciful, and he commands us to be merciful (Luke 6:36). He is truthful, and he commands us not to bear false witness (Titus 1:2; Exodus 20:16). *

* https:// articles/ 10-things-you-should-know-about-christian-ethics/


The Holy Spirit: The guiding principles behind the way Christians should live is God’s nature within us by virtue of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Col 1:9–10 (NIV) For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

John 16:8 (ESV) And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:


John 14:26 NLT But when the Father sends the Counsellor as my representative - and by the Counsellor I mean the Holy Spirit - he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.

1 John 2:27 NLT But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don't need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you all things, and what he teaches is true-- it is not a lie. So, continue in what he has taught you, and continue to live in Christ.


Our primary written source for Christian ethics is the Bible which gives us instructions on how we should live.

2 Tim 3:16 (NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…

Because it is the Word of God, the Bible is a higher authority in ethics than tradition, reason, experience, expected results, or subjective perceptions of guidance. While these other factors can never override the teaching of Scripture, they can still be helpful for us in making a wise decision. *

* https:// articles/ 10-things-you-should-know-about-christian-ethics/


From a secular perspective, ethics change from group to group and society to society. From a Christian perspective however, ethics should be concrete and governed by God. Christian ethics do not change from society to society as secular moral codes may, since Christians are a single group adhering to the ethical code of the Bible, rather than multiple sects adhering to differing laws and customs. Our ethics must never contradict scripture which is sufficient for us to face all the ethical dilemmas that we must deal with. *

Psalm 119:105 (ESV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

* Ethics Vs. Morals From the Christian Perspective -


Christian ethics teach us how to live. You study them so that you can better know God’s will, and “so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10, NIV).

The goal of Christian ethics is to lead a life that glorifies God.

Matt 5:16 (NIV) In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

1 Cor 10:31 (ESV) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Although we are justified by faith in Christ alone and not by works, the Bible teaches that our day-by-day obedience as justified Christians is an important part of the Christian life.


There are many blessings associated with living in obedience to God’s commands in Scripture, including the joy of:

deeper fellowship with God (John 15:10)

pleasing God (2 Cor 5:9; Col 1:10)

becoming a vessel for “honourable use” by God (2 Tim 2:20-21)

being an effective witness to unbelievers (1 Pet 2:12; 3:1)

increased answers to our prayers (1 Pet 3:10-12; James 5:16; 1 John 3:21-22);

closer fellowship with other Christians (1 John 1:7);

a clear conscience (1 Tim 1:5, 19). *

* https:// articles/ 10-things-you-should-know-about-christian-ethics/


There are several harmful consequences that come from wilful sin by Christians. These consequences include:

a disruption of our daily fellowship with God (Eph 4:30; 1 John 3:21)

the awareness of God’s fatherly displeasure and the possible experience of his fatherly discipline (1 Cor 11:30; Heb 12:5-11; cf. Eph 4:30; Rev 3:19)

a loss of fruitfulness in our ministries and in our Christian lives (John 15:4-5). *

Christians should pray daily for forgiveness of sins (Matthew 6:12; 1 John 1:9), not to gain justification again and again, but to restore our personal fellowship with God that has been hindered by sin. *

* Ibid.


Wayne Grudem (PhD, University of Cambridge writes:

“Repentance” in the New Testament is not merely a “change of mind” but includes both sorrow for one’s sins and a sincere inward resolve to turn away from sin and to turn to Christ in faith (Hebrews 6:1; Acts 16:31). But how can unbelievers repent of their sins if they do not even know what God’s moral standards are? I do not believe that widespread revival will come to any nation apart from widespread, heartfelt repentance for sin. Therefore gospel proclamation today must include an element of teaching about God’s moral standards, which means teaching about Christian ethics. *

* https:// articles/ 10-things-you-should-know-about-christian-ethics/


Some Christian speakers today downplay or omit any call for unbelievers to repent of their sins, but evangelism in the New Testament clearly included a call to repentance. Just before he returned to heaven, Jesus told his disciples “that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). *

* https:// articles/ 10-things-you-should-know-about-christian-ethics/


Although we are saved by faith, it must be evidenced by our actions (works).

James 2:18 (ESV) But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

James 1:27 (NIV) Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.


Ethics is not simply being concerned about right and wrong actions. Besides the action itself we should consider:

Our attitudes to the action

Our motives for doing the action (what is driving us to do or not do something)

The outcome or consequences of the action and how it will affect us and others


The Bible even addresses not only our actions, but our motives.

Matt 15:18-20 (NIV) … but the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person…

We are also instructed to consider how our actions and speech impacts others.

Eph 4:29 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.


Wayne Grudem writes:

We should never think that God wants us to choose a “lesser sin.” Although several evangelical ethics books claim that, from time to time, we face situations of “impossible moral conflict” where all our choices are sinful and we must simply choose to commit the “lesser sin,” this idea is not taught in Scripture. It is contradicted both by the life of Christ, “who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15), and by the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says that God will always provide a “way of escape.” The “impossible moral conflict” view easily becomes a slippery slope that in actual practice encourages Christians to sin more and more. *

* Ibid.


Applied ethics refers to the practical application of moral considerations. It is ethics with respect to real-world actions and their moral considerations in the areas of private and public life, the professions, health, technology, law, and leadership. *

Christian ethics emphasizes morality. In the Old Testament the law was given within the context of devotion to God who is shown as rejecting unrighteousness and injustice, while commending those who live moral lives.

In tension with this, there is also constant expression of God’s forgiveness of undeserving sinners. This is referred to as grace: “being treated as innocent when one is guilty”.

* https:// wiki/ Applied_ethics


J. Philip Wogaman (former Professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary Washington, D.C.) argues that: “Part of the biblical legacy of Christian ethics is the necessity somehow to do justice to both” law and grace.

Forgive anyone and everyone you may have an issue with. It may be that your resentment is justified. The person may have done a very evil, terrible thing to you. You may have every right to hold a grudge but if you want to be free, walk in forgiveness.

Lev 19:18 (NIV) Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself…


Besides the numerous passages dealing with ethics, the Bible contains some general ethical principles for Christians to live by, e.g., the “golden rule.”

Matt 7:12 (NIV) So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you …

Likewise, the greatest commandments:

Matt 22:37-40 (NIV) Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


Jesus used himself as a model of the love required, in what he called The New Commandment.

John 13:34 (ESV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

John 15:13-14 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.


The Old Covenant had the Law which was a list of commandments and an ethical code for God’s covenant people.

Deut 6:6-9 (NIV) These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.



But the Mosaic covenant was terminated when Christ instituted the New Covenant.

Heb 8:13 (NIV) By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Christians are no longer directly subject to the laws of the Mosaic covenant but now live instead under the provisions of the new covenant. However, the Old Testament is still a valuable source of ethical wisdom when understood in accordance with the ways in which the New Testament authors use the Old Testament for ethical teaching, and in light of the changes brought about by the new covenant. *

* https:// articles/ 10-things-you-should-know-about-christian-ethics/


The NT explicitly reaffirms 9 of the 10 moral standards in the Decalogue as requirements for New Covenant Christians.

Ex 20:3 (ESV) You shall have no other gods before me.

1 Cor 8:6 (ESV) yet for us there is one God …

1 Tim 2:5 (ESV) For there is one God…

This includes making a god of money, possessions, sports, people, fame, power, etc.

Matt 6:24 (ESV) “No one can serve two masters … You cannot serve God and money.”


Ex 20:4 (NASB) You shall not make for yourself an idol…

1 John 5:21 (NIV) … keep yourselves from idols.

Rev 21:8 (NIV But … the idolaters… their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur …

1 Cor 6:9-10 (NIV) … Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters … will inherit the kingdom of God.


Ex 20:7 (ESV) You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…

We must not bring dishonour to God’s name in our words or actions.

1 Tim 6:1 (ESV) …so that the name of God … may not be reviled.

In addition, we are to have purity of speech. We are to avoid gossip, slander and filthy language.

Col 3:7-8 (NIV) … But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these … slander, and filthy language from your lips.


Obscenity or coarse joking are out of place for Christians.

Eph 5:4 (NIV) Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

Boasting and flattery are to be avoided.

Jude 16 (NIV) …they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

We will be judged by our speech.

Matt 12:36-37 (NIV) “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”


Ex 20:9-10 (ESV) Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work…

We have an obligation to work (2 Thess 3:10-13), to serve others in order to provide for our own needs and those of our family (1 Tim 5:8) and to imitate God who is himself a worker. But we must also honour and recommend the Creator's rule of one day's rest in seven, recognising that it was made for our pleasure and benefit (Isa 58:13-14; Mark 2:27)… *

* https:// resources/ publications/ content/ ?context=article&id=1330

But while the principle of work and rest remains, the specific day is no longer important. Sabbath observance is the only commandment not applicable to Christians.

Col 2:16-17 (NIV) Therefore do not let anyone judge you … with regard to … a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.


Ex 20:12 (ESV) Honour your father and your mother

Col 3:20 (NIV) Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. [cf. Eph 6:1-3]

God has established human authorities as his agents to serve and protect us and we should submit to them and not rebel against their authority (Rom 13:1-7). Most important among these is the family which is God's provision for the protection, nurture and discipline of children (Dt 6:6,7; Eph 6:1-4) and the stability of society as a whole. *

* Ibid.


Ex 20:13 (ESV) You shall not murder.

1 John 3:15 (NIV) Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

1 Peter 4:15 (NIV) If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer…

This addresses the issues of murder, abortion, suicide and euthanasia.

All human life is made in God’s image (Gen 9:6,7) and is worthy of the utmost respect from its beginning to end. This includes the unborn (Ps 139:13-16; Isa 49:1; Job 10:8-9), the handicapped (Lev 19:14), the vulnerable (Ex 22:21-24) and the advanced in age (Lev 19:32). *

* Ibid.

The NT extends this to:

forbidding abusive language

Matt 5:21-22 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder… But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…”

Rom 12:14 (ESV) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

forbidding hatred

1 John 3:15 (NIV) Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer …

loving enemies

Matt 5:43-44 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies …


instead of revenge, returning good for evil

Rom 12:17-20 (ESV) Repay no one evil for evil… Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God… To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…”

pacifism towards evil people.

Matt 5:38-39 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Rom 12:18 (ESV) If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

praying for enemies

Matt 5:44 (ESV) “… pray for those who persecute you”



On the flipside, this does not preclude:

the right to protect yourself and your families in self-defence.

Luke 22:36 (ESV) “… And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”

The OT Law distinguished between murder (killing with malice) and killing in self-defence with cities of refuge being mandated for the latter – where perpetrators of accidental manslaughter could claim the right of asylum (Joshua 20).

the right to defend property

Ex 22:2–3 (ESV) If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed…

Matthew 5:38-41.

You have heard that it was said, Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.

If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  

And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

Unfair treatment.

It’s unfortunate that too many times, Christians totally disregard what God said.

Christians will claim to live by God’s word where it’s convenient for their own personal theology, but in places where it challenges their beliefs or behavior, many totally disregard what the word says explicitly.

Too many Christians refuse to turn the other cheek, and make all sorts of excuses, but Jesus not only preached it, but he also practiced it.

Unfair treatment.

God allows you to defend yourself WHEN YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER.

But someone trying to humiliate or intimidate you by slapping you or striking you is totally different from someone tackling you or trying to overcome you physically.

It’s totally different than when someone is really threatening your life.

Unfair treatment.

Too many Christians are fantasizing about a situation where they have to ‘stand their ground’!

Too many Christians don’t trust God to fight their battles! (Read 2 Chronicles Chapter 20).

Too many Christians are ready for a physical fight because they don’t trust God to fight their spiritual battles.

We can’t cherry-pick our way through the bible asserting our own authority over God’s. That’s idolatry.

Unfair treatment.

Genesis 26:19-22.

Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, The water is ours! So, he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 

Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so, he named it Sitnah. 

He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.


Ex 20:14 (ESV) You shall not commit adultery.

1 Cor 6:9-10 (NIV) … Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral … nor adulterers … will inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ instruction regarding adultery is more stringent than the OT as he addresses the thought life rather than actions only.

Matt 5:27-28 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

The Song of Solomon depicts sensual love as good and it was God who instructed mankind to “Be fruitful and multiply ” (Gen 1:28). Sex was created by and blessed by God within the context of marriage.

Heb 13:4 (NIV) Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.


Marriage is a life-long, publicly recognised, heterosexual, monogamous relationship (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:4-6; Eph 5:31-33) and is representative of Christ's own relationship with the church. Sex is God's good gift for intimacy (Matt 19:4), pleasure (Prov 5:18,19) and procreation (Gen 1:28) but must only take place within the marriage relationship. *

In the NT, polygamy is discouraged (1 Tim 3:2).

Divorce is frowned upon (Mal 2:16) but permissible in the case of marital unfaithfulness (Matt 5:31) or desertion by an unbeliever (1 Cor 7:12-15).

Voluntary celibacy for the sake of the gospel is also approved of, provided the person has sexual self-control. (1 Cor 7:8-9)

* Ibid.



Ex 20:15 (ESV) You shall not steal.

Eph 4:28 (NIV) He who has been stealing must steal no longer…

1 Cor 6:9 (NIV) Neither … thieves … nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Pet 4:15 (NIV) If you suffer, it should not be as a … thief …

God has blessed human beings materially in order that they may provide for their own needs and those of others (2 Cor 9:8). We should show respect for the property of others and seek to use what he has given us in accordance with his revealed will. *

* Ibid.


Ex 20:16 (ESV) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

Col 3:9 (NIV) Do not lie to each other..

Rev 21:8 (NIV) But … all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.


Eph 4:25 (NIV) Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour…

We should “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) at all times, using our words to build others up rather than tearing them down. Lying through commission or omission runs counter to the nature of God himself (Num 23:19) and leads to injustice. *

We should have integrity and be people of our word.

Jam 5:12 (ESV) But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. [cf. Matt 5:33-37]

* Ibid.


Ex 20:17 (ESV) You shall not covet your neighbour’s house… or anything that is your neighbour’s.”

Eph 5:3 (ESV) … covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Col 3:5 (ESV) Put to death therefore what is earthly in you… evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

We should be grateful and content with what God gives us (Phil 4:11-12), not being driven by jealousy or desire for the possessions, relationships, gifts or honour of others. Rather we should desire to do his will, to have his gifts to serve others (1 Cor 12:31) and most of all to desire God himself (Ps 37:4), knowing that he will provide us with what we need. * * Ibid.

Other topics covered by Applied Christian Ethics include:

Borrowing, lending and the question of debt

Property: The need for of private ownership and property

Environmental ethics




Alcohol and addiction

Bioethics, Genetic engineering, Infertility, Reproductive Technology, and Adoption


God instituted human government after the Flood as a restraint on evil.

Even though some governments may be corrupt (just like people’s consciences) they are still a tool of God for limiting wickedness.

If you think government is bad, anarchy is worse. Consider that before the Flood only 8 people on the planet were spared God’s judgment.

Governments provide:

a law enforcement system to investigate and apprehend criminals

a legal system to convict wrongdoers

a penal system to punish lawbreakers

1 Pet 2:13-14 (NIV) Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

Rom 13:3-4 (NIV) For rulers … are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

War between nations is a constant threat. The government has a responsibility to keep external aggressors at bay.

Soldiers are simply told not to extort money and to be content with their wages (Luke 3:14). Jesus commends a Roman centurion for his faith (Matt 8:5-13) while the first Gentile convert to Christianity is a Roman centurion (Acts 10). In neither case are they told to quit the army.


Governments must also ensure security within its borders.

Ps 72:4 (NIV) May he [the king] defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.

Civilizations need some form of restraint and rules to protect people from each other. An example of this function is seen in Acts 21:27-37 where Roman soldiers intervene to prevent Paul from being murdered.

We are to recognize that the powers that be are ordained by God.

Rom 13:2 (NIV) The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Rom 13:6-7 (NIV) … the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

This truth applies even to ungodly human governments. In fact, when Paul wrote those words, the evil emperor Nero was on the throne.

We must respect our leaders.

Rom 13:6-7 (NIV) … the authorities are God’s servants… If you owe … respect, then [give] respect…

We must not slander leaders.

Ex 22:28 (NIV) Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.he ruler of your people. [cf. Acts 23:5]

King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defence … Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently. [Acts 26:2-3, NIV)

We must pray for our leaders.

1 Tim 2:1-3 (NASB) First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.

Obey the laws of the land.

Titus 3:1 (NASB) Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed

Rom 13:5 (NIV) Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

1 Pet 2:13-14 (NASB) Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him …

In order to pay for services (security forces, infrastructure, etc.) taxes need to be collected from the able-bodied workers. Christians should be good citizens and pay their taxes.

Rom 13:6-7 (NIV) This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue…

When asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Jesus said to them, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt 22:17-21)

We obey the law unless it conflicts with God’s law (e.g. prohibition on worship or evangelising). In that situation the believer must rather obey God.

Acts 4:18-20 (NIV) Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

We are commanded not to judge others lest we put ourselves under similar judgement.

Luke 6:37-38 (ESV) “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven … For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

We can only judge where God has given us authority e.g. parents over children, church leaders over congregants, governments over citizens. But we have no authority outside the church.

1 Cor 5:12-13 (NIV) What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside…



However, there is a place for Christian activism.

Prov 29:7 (ESV) A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.

We should stand up for the rights of the downtrodden. If we see injustice we cannot simply walk away.

Isaiah 1:17 (NIV) Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Where there are social injustices we need to stand up and speak out. We need to be the voice of the poor and oppressed.

Prov 31:8-9 (NIV) Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Do we never speak out against the evil committed by leaders?

The prophet Nathan publicly rebuked David for his sin (2 Sam 12:7).

You are the man!

The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke out against evil leadership and God’s coming judgment.

John the Baptist publicly reprimanded Herod for his adulterous relationship.

Peter and John refused to obey the Sanhedrin’s direct command to refrain from preaching.

After Queen Jezebel uses false witnesses to get Naboth killed in order for Ahab to seize his land, Ahab is confronted by the prophet Elijah.

This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property? … In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’ [1 Kings 21:19, NIV]

Note the following though:

It was the spiritual leaders who acted as the watchdog for the government.

They spoke out publicly against the sinful practices.

It was only godly kings like David who accepted harsh criticism from God’s prophet and repented. Those who condemned the rulers often faced consequences e.g. Peter and John were flogged, Elijah had to flee to escape execution. Jeremiah was thrown into a pit. Jewish tradition says that Isaiah was sawn in two at the order of King Manasseh.

John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed for condemning Herod’s sin.

Matt 14:3-4 (ESV) For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”

Christians can participate in and influence even ungodly governments.

Nehemiah influenced a pagan government to support the rebuilding of the temple.

Esther used her influence with government to save her people from genocide.

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were righteous men who functioned as high- ranking administrators in pagan governments and repeatedly used their positions for good.

As the second-in-command in a pagan Egyptian government, Joseph was able to save both his people and the Egyptians from starvation.

Although we understand that only when Christ rules will there be a completely righteous government, Christians should be encouraged to participate in politics.

Christians should not be retreatists – we should exercise our right to vote for righteous rulers and parties that represent Christian values.

“If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools... The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” - Plato (Ancient Greek philosopher)

The majority of the population in South Africa claim to be Christians but vote for political parties which stand for anti-Christian principles such as abortion, homosexual marriage, etc. How can we vote in a manner which violates our Christian ethos?

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” - John Quincy Adams (6th president of the US)

Don’t empower the enemies of Christ to trample on Christian values.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke (18th century Irish statesman and philosopher)



There are 3 primary views in Christian ethics on the roles of women.

Biblical patriarchy: upholds the view that there should be a hierarchy of male over female authority.

Christian egalitarianism: argues that the Bible supports “mutual submission” and maintains that positions of authority and responsibility in marriage and religion should be equally available to females as well as males.

Complementarianism: contains aspects of both of the above views, viewing women as “ontologically equal” but “functionally different.”


Both men and women are made in the image of God.


Gen 1:27 (NIV) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

They are jointly commissioned to fill the earth and rule over creation. Aside from the obvious fact that women will bear the children and feed them in the initial phase, there is no evidence of role differentiation in this. We are commissioned to rule together over creation. 1

1 https:// should-women-lead-churches-and-preach


Gen 1:28 (NIV) God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

In Jesus’ day:

1) A women’s place was in the home.

2) Women were not to be taught the Torah.

3) Men were not supposed to speak with women in public.

4) Women were regarded as inherently sinful.

5) Women were not allowed to bear witness in court.

But Jesus defies these social norms:

1) Jesus accepts women leaving their households to join his ministry team.

2) He teaches women.

3) He engages and speaks with women in public.

4) Jesus defends the women of ill-repute.

5) He uses them as his initial witnesses to his resurrection.

The Bible teaches equality of worth for male and female. The apostle Paul was not a woman-hating misogynist as some have portrayed him. He writes to the Galatians:

Gal 3:28 (NIV) There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Mark Keown writes of the above verse:

This gives a radical social vision of a church in which the great social divisions that beset the Roman world and the world today are torn asunder in Christ. There is no place for racism, elitism, or sexism. All are one. All are equal in Christ. 1

1 https:// should-women-lead-churches-and-preach




The concept of justice is connected to that of merit: those who behave morally corrupt will be punished, while those who are morally upright will be rewarded. *

* https:// www.compellingtruth. org/ God-is-just.html


Imagine that Adolf Hitler had been found alive, hiding in Germany, and was brought before a judge. His crimes took nine hours to read, but, at the end, the judge said, “I see what you’ve done. Millions murdered. But I think you’ve learned your lesson so I’m gonna let you go.” He banged the gavel and cried, “Not guilty!” What rises in our hearts when we consider such a scenario? That emotion is outrage at injustice. We know the verdict is not just, and it feels intolerable to us. Evil requires an equivalent punishment. We inherited that sense of justice from our Creator, because He is just. *

* https:// God-is-just.html


Not only does God want justice; he “loves righteousness and justice” (Ps 33:5).

Isa 61:8 (ESV) For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong…

Ps 89:14 (ESV) Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne…

Justice is an intrinsic part of his nature in the same way that love is.

Rev 16:6 (ESV) “… true and just are your judgments!”

Without God’s justice, sin would run unchecked. There would be no reward for obedience and evil would ultimately triumph.


God is perfectly righteous and just in giving out rewards:

Heb 6:10 (NIV) God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

He is equally just in executing punishment:

Col 3:25 (NIV) Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favouritism.

God requires us to be just:

Micah 6:8 (NKJV) He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?



OXFORD LANGUAGES: social justice (noun): justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.

In general, social justice attempts to bring about equality in society.

While politicians and adherents of other religions might define it differently, to Christians this is the concept that all people should have access to justice, protection, health, wealth, opportunities, wellbeing, education and employment opportunities.


Many don’t realise that the term “social justice” originated from a Catholic Jesuit priest Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio. Basing the idea on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas, he coined the term in the 1840s - a concept considered an important contribution to conservative political philosophy. Only with the publication of John Rawls’s “A Theory of Justice” in 1971 did the term became widely associated with liberal secular political philosophy.


While – due to its liberal associations some Christians are averse to the term - from a Biblical point of view, social justice simply means following Jesus’ command to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Hence the idea is rooted in the character and nature of God - as God is just, so we are called to abide by his principles of justice. God's original intention for human society was to have a world where basic needs are met, people prosper and peace reigns

The poor and foreigners (non-citizens) must not be deprived of justice.

Ex 12:49 (NIV) The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.

Ex 22:21-22 (NIV) Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.

Deut 24:17 (NIV) Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.

God rebukes the leaders of Israel for lack of concern for the underprivileged.

Isa 1:23 (NIV) Your rulers … do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.

The people are commanded to:

Isa 1:17 (NIV) Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Micah 6:8 (ESV) He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice…

Deut 16:20 (ESV) Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord … is giving you.

Lev 19:15 (ESV) You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour.

Zech 7:9-10 (ESV) … ‘Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.’


Methodism: From its founding, Methodism was a Christian social justice movement. Under John Wesley's direction, Methodists became leaders in many social justice issues of the day, including the prison reform and abolition movements. Wesley himself was among the first to preach for slaves rights attracting significant opposition. *

* https:/ / wiki/ Social_justice


The Salvation Army: Founded in 1865 by former Methodist preacher William Booth, the Army sought to bring salvation to the poor, destitute, and hungry by meeting both their physical and spiritual needs. It is present in 132 countries, operating shelters for the homeless and providing disaster relief and humanitarian aid to developing countries.



Founded in 1950, World Vision International is an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid organization which - amongst other things - assists orphans, feeds the hungry and helps AIDS sufferers. It operates in more than 90 countries and according to Forbes magazine (Dec 2014) it is the 11th largest charity in the US with total revenue of over $981 million.

Time magazine noted that younger Evangelicals increasingly engage in social justice. John Stott traced the call for social justice back to the cross, “The cross is a revelation of God's justice as well as of his love. That is why the community of the cross should concern itself with social justice as well as with loving philanthropy.” *

* Ibid.



The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that about 815 million people of the 7.6 billion people in the world, or 10.7%, were suffering from chronic under- nourishment in 2016. *

According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.” **

* **


We must not oppress the poor.

Prov 22:22-23 (NASB) Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Nor crush the needy at the gate; For the LORD will plead their case And take the life of those who rob them.

Prov 14:31 (ESV) Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honours him.


God will judge those who oppress the poor.

Amos 5:11-12 (NASB) Therefore because you impose heavy rent on the poor And take a tribute of grain from them, Though you have built houses of cut stone, Yet you will not live in them; You have planted beautiful vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine. For I know your offenses are many and your sins are great, You who are hostile to the righteous and accept bribes, And turn away the poor from justice at the gate.


God will judge the rich who are greedy and self-indulgent – exploiting the poor for their own advantage.

James 5:1-5 (NIV) Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.


Jesus relates the account of a rich man and a beggar.

Luke 16:19-21 (NIV) “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.”


Later when he is suffering in Hades and pleads for relief, Abraham says, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” (v 25)

Christians should not oppose the concepts of state welfare and assistance for the poor (orphans, widows, disabled, aged) by pensions, grants, subsidizing food, housing, healthcare etc.

This is not something that originates with socialists or communists. It was present in the Law of Moses which legislated assistance for the poor, e.g. The Law promoted welfare in the form of food assistance:

Ex 23:10-11 (NIV) For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it… Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

Lev 23:22 (NIV) When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you…


The Mosaic Law also legislated debt relief:

Deut 15:1-2 (NIV) At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother, because the LORD’s time for cancelling debts has been proclaimed.

The eventual return of property lost due to financial difficulty. Under the Law of Moses, if someone became poor and had to sell their property, it could be redeemed at a later stage.

Lev 25:25-28 (NIV) But if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property.


Some maintain that it is not our responsibility to help the poor; we must simply teach them the principles of God contained in the Bible and they will be blessed (in other words give them a fishing rod – not a fish).

Mother Teresa: “I was asked why I did not give a rod with which to fish, in the hands of the poor, rather than give the fish itself as this makes them remain poor. So I told them: The people whom we pick up are not able to stand with a rod. So today I will give them fish and when they are able to stand, then I shall send them to you and you can give them the rod.”

There are many scriptures that instruct us to take care of the poor.

Deut 15:7 (ESV) If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother.

Psalm 41:1 (ESV) Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;

Prov 21:13 (NIV) If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.



We are commanded to help the poor.

Deut 15:11 (NIV) There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

God blesses those who help the poor.

Prov 19:17 (ESV) Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.

Prov 14:21 (ESV) … blessed is he who is generous to the poor.

Prov 22:9 (NIV) The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.


Cornelius got God’s attention because of his prayer and generosity to the poor.

Acts 10:4 (NIV) Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”


Jesus assisted the poor.

John 13:29 (ESV) Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor.

And he instructed others to do the same.

Luke 12:33-34 (NIV) “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matt 6:3-4 (NIV) “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret…”

Mark 10:21 (ESV) And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”



The apostles in Jerusalem (James, Peter and John) were concerned about the poor.

Gal 2:10 (ESV) Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Paul assisted the poor.

Acts 24:17 (NIV) “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor …”

He instructed Christians to do the same.

Rom 12:13 (NIV) Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Eph 4:28 (ESV) Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

The early church invited the poor to their love feasts. It is believed that they were inspired by the following words of Jesus:

Luke 14:12-14 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”


Julian the apostate (331-363 AD), the pagan Emperor who (unsuccessfully) tried to move the Roman Empire back from Christianity to paganism, would complain about this practice in the 4th century:

“These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their agapae (love feasts), they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes. Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. See their love-feasts, and their tables spread for the indigent. Such practice is common among them, and causes a contempt for our gods."

Compassion requires practical action from us. We can’t just offer sympathy; we need to do something.

1 John 3:17 (NIV) If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

We can pray, but we are exhorted to be practical.

James 2:14-16 (ESV) What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?


Like Tabitha, we should always be doing good and helping the poor.

Acts 9:36 (NIV) In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.

She had a practice of making robes and other clothing for widows (Acts 9:39)

We do, however, need to exercise discernment when giving.

We are commanded to work and earn a living. Now some people are willing but not able. But an exclusion to giving to the needy is when someone is able to work but is unwilling.

2 Thess 3:6-12 (NIV) In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 


 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.


The early church based sustained support on certain prerequisites.

The family had the first responsibility.

1 Tim 5:8 (NIV) Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Age requirement, good character and reputation.

1 Tim 5:9-10 (NIV) No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.