Who Sets the Standard? Revisited

Have you seen those commercials where a woman, whose teeth are blindingly white, is encouraging her friend to check out her whitening product? Her friend responds by taking the ’tissue test’, in which she holds up a very white piece of tissue to compare against her teeth, and is horrified to find that they fall far short of true white.

Image result for tissue test

Every time I see that commercial I think, “What color are my teeth supposed to be? White enough to blind? Sort of off-white? Somewhere in the middle?” Lord knows I could probably stand to whiten up my teeth a little after many years of drinking tea and coffee, but honestly, who made that stark white testing tissue the standard?!

For many things in life, that’s really the question isn’t it? Who sets the standard? And what qualifies them to do so? In today’s society, where there seems to be no absolutes, one might even wonder if there are any standards.

In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis has some interesting things to say about this subject:

“Everyone has heard people quarreling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. They say things like this: ‘How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?’ – ‘That’s my seat, I was there first’ – ‘Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm’ – Why should you shove in first?’ – ‘Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine’ – ‘Come on, you promised.’ People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups.

Now what interest me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behavior does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: ‘To hell with your standard.’ Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special excuse. He pretends there is some special reason in this particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that something has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise. It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behavior or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed.

And they have. If they had not, they might, of course, fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word. Quarreling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football. But the most remarkable thing is this.

Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties don’t matter; but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and there is no such thing as Right and Wrong, what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? 

It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table.”

Mere Christianity, pp 4-6

Lewis’ summation above –what he calls the Law of Human Nature– agrees with the Bible:

In Romans 2:12-15, Paul writes:

“All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 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.”

Image result for plum line on the bible

God has set His standard within our hearts
This verse teaches us that God has placed within each of us an inherent knowledge of right and wrong. Our conscience bears witness with this when we do something we know isn’t right, moral, or ethical. We may set aside our conscience at times, but if we do this habitually we will eventually lose the ability to discern between good and evil. In modern psychology, we might refer to this type of person as a sociopath.

So we see that there is a standard. And that God, Himself, has set this standard and placed it within all of His creation. He is qualified to do so as our Creator; but even more so, because He Himself is the highest standard of all that is perfect and good. Therefore, His standard can be nothing less than perfection. But we are far from perfect. We cannot meet God’s standard and therefore we fail to qualify as righteous in His sight. We miss the mark, we sin. And the Bible clearly teaches that “the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” Psalm 1:5.

Sin cannot be ignored or overlooked, the debt must be paid
Just as in our society, a crime cannot be overlooked and justice must be served, sin also cannot be ignored or passed over; the debt must be paid. But let us not lose heart, because we are not without hope. We have been given a lifeline! God, in His mercy, has provided us a way of escape from the eternal consequence of sin and judgment. His name is Jesus.

Image result for sin debt

Out of His great love for humanity, Jesus took the sin of the world upon Himself and satisfied this debt for all who will receive it. Perhaps the most known scripture in the Bible (aside from Psalm 23) is John 3:16. It is our hope, our assurance, that God has not written us off.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18

Be assured, justice will be served in the end. The Law demands it. God’s righteous standard demands it. Only one question remains… will your sin be found upon Jesus? Or will it be upon you?

18 thoughts on “Who Sets the Standard? Revisited

  1. Thank you, Dee, for reminding us that everything revolves around God’s righteous plan and his Law of Judgement. Whether under the law or apart from the law, mankind’s blood is just not sufficient to cleanse us from our sin…of being BORN! So we must be born again, only this time with a BLOOD transfusion from Jesus Christ. My hope is that mankind will discover the street named A-S-K.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen, Sister Fowler! You are so right on. By the way, I’ve been so busy I haven’t had much time to get caught up on my reading.. and I am behind on your posts! My apologies. Reading is on my to do list over the next couple days. 🙂 God bless you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fashion and trends change.
    Back in the day, people did not believe that plastic surgery was necessary once you see the first wrinkle. Now, they do. I’m exaggerating a bit, but you catch my drift. One teeth… SUCH white teeth were not the norm back in the day. Natural, healthy teeth were the norm.

    Thought-provoking post. I can only hope that we all act according to His rules. Yes, I sometimes feel bad when people ask who made me the authority on a specific rule, but then I realize that I am His tool, and sometimes others need guiding. Sometimes they are lost and need to be nudged towards the path. Now if they walk off that path again…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I totally agree about the fashion and trends change. I think much of that is due to vanity. LOL. As for acting according to God’s rules, I don’t believe this is possible without His Spirit within. And even then we will continue to fail, because we are sinful creatures. But thank God for Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf! If we know Christ as our Savior, even when we fail we can confess our sin and get back up because God is merciful! God bless you!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I love how you anchored the excerpt from Mere Christianity to scripture. The “innate moral compass” is a big supporting point, in my mind, for the idea that we are made in the image of God. I’ve had some interesting conversations with family members about this. My atheistic brother says we have those innate senses because we are social creatures, so they are essentially survival skills, while my Christian dad still thinks that society is a thin veneer making people act civilized. I don’t quite agree with either of them. 🙂 My Christian dad may be closer to right in that we are sinful creatures who could be given over to sin in an anarchy situation, but in that case, I believe people still KNOW right from wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree with you, Lily. I do somewhat agree with your dad in that I think our sinful nature requires an external force to deter us from committing gross sin; such as the law of the land or societal pressure. However, it is clear that we all start out with a moral compass. Whether or not we end up that way will not be an argument we can present to God in defense of our actions. God bless!


  4. Love this post! The same question can be asked of who set the standard for beauty? Thank God that Jesus Christ is our standard and we just need to live a life to glorify Him. Have a blessed weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Honoring, Meeting And Sharing – Becoming the Oil and the Wine

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