daily biblical sermons


DOES GOD CALL SOME PEOPLE TO BREAK HIS NORMATIVE BIBLICALLY REVEALED MORAL LAW?
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Monday, Fifth Week of Easter, May 20, 2019
Acts 14:5-18, Psalm 114, John 14:21-26


 

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him  … If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:21, 23-24 NKJV).

 

 

Today Jesus tells us what we are to do once we have been justified by faith, not by works, for no one can justify himself before God by his good works, because sin has created such an abyss between us and God that no one can pay his debt of suffering in punishment for his sins that he owes God to be able to reconcile himself with him. Therefore God himself devised a plan of salvation whereby he himself would pay our debt of suffering in punishment for our sins for us by becoming a man and suffering and dying in just punishment for all the sins of the world on a cross.

 

 

We access this justifying act of Christ only by our faith, not by any good works that we may do in accord with God’s law (moral or ceremonial) to earn or merit God’s forgiveness and our justification. This is the clear teaching of Scripture (Romans 3:20, 28; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

 

But then, what must we do as justified Christians? We must continue to grow in holiness (sanctification) by loving Christ, and we love him by keeping his moral commandments, which are revealed in the Scriptures (the Ten Commandments) and by following the teachings of Jesus. If we love Jesus by keeping his commandments (which are his Father’s commandments, for “the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:24b)), we will be loved by the Father and by Jesus, and Jesus will manifest himself to us: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21 NKJV).

 

 

So the way of loving Jesus is to keep his commandments (his moral law, which is the Father’s moral law), and the result will be that we will be loved by the Father, and Christ will manifest himself to us in a spiritual, interior way, not seen by the world.

 

 

Not only this, but Jesus and his Father will make their home within us if we love Jesus and keep his word. Keeping his word means obeying his moral law, which is his Father’s moral law revealed in the Old Testament (the Ten Commandments). If we do not keep his commandments, we do not love him. Those who do not love him do not keep his commandments. “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:24 NKJV).

 

 

So we see that keeping God’s normative biblically revealed moral law (the Ten Commandments) is the way of sanctification, which follows our justification by faith, not by works in accordance with God’s moral law. But keeping the commandments is obviously a matter of us performing good works in accord with God’s biblically revealed moral law. So clearly justification is by faith, not by works; while sanctification is by works, and our works of keeping Jesus’ commandments show that we love him.

 

 

This may seem like an obvious point, but unfortunately today it is no longer obvious, for it is now being widely taught in the Church, even at the highest levels, that there are no more moral absolutes, that is, things that are always wrong, because they are intrinsically wrong and can never under any circumstances be committed and can never become virtuous acts. Now it is falsely being taught within the Church that everything is open to discernment, especially if you are accompanied by an up-to-date pastor who is informed about these new false moral theories, and this pastor will help you to discern that in your case adultery or fornication or any other sin that you would like to commit is not considered by God to be sinful in your case because of your extenuating circumstances and the mitigating factors in your difficult life situation.

 

 

So the task of living a moral life, according to this new false moral theory, becomes the path of discernment whereby you learn by being accompanied by your up-to-date pastor to come to peace in your conscience with living a life of constant mortal sin. If you can be at peace this way, then you should take this as the voice of God in your conscience telling you that this mortal sin is okay for you and is not a sin for you and that God will not hold it against you, and so you should do it freely and not feel guilty about it.

 

 

This, of course, is a horrific distortion of biblical Christianity and of today’s gospel reading, where we are told, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21 NKJV).

 

 

Another form of this new false moral theory is that God is so merciful that he calls certain people in difficult life situations to break his normative biblically revealed moral law, because he sees that it would be too difficult for these people to keep it. And so when they break these moral laws by doing gravely sinful things, God does not count it as a sin in their case, but rather as the virtue of obeying God’s will as he is revealing it to them in their conscience. So by living in constant grave sin they are thereby growing in grace, virtue, and holiness.

 

 

This false moral theory is also a complete contradiction of Scripture in general and of today’s gospel in particular; and all serious Christians need to be warned about this false theory, lest they be led astray by it into a life of serious sin, jeopardizing their eternal salvation.

 

 

Still another form of this false moral theory is that we are not simply to obey God’s moral law like robots, but rather to consider it as an inspiring thought that comes to us from our tradition that we must take into account together with other considerations and contemporary ideas and then in the depths of our conscience make our own personal decision concerning what is best for us, and this personal decision should be considered by us to be the voice of God in our conscience, telling us his will for us, even if we decide to commit some gravely sinful act or to live in a state of constant grave sin.

 

 

Let all good Christians and Catholics also beware of this version of this new false moral theory, lest they be led astray by it, for it is a complete contradiction of New Testament Christianity and morality.

 

 

Finally another false moral theory very popular today is the theory of “fundamental option,” which says that if our fundamental option in life is for God and for Christ, then isolated mortal sins like fornication, adultery, theft, bearing false witness, infanticide, abortion, homosexual acts, etc. should be seen simply as isolated incidents that do not deny or break our “fundamental option” for God, and so God does not consider these mortal sins to be mortal sins in our case, and so they do not break our relationship with God and do not alienate us from him.

 

 

This new false moral theory of “fundamental option” also directly contradicts basic New Testament morality and in particular today’s gospel reading, especially John 14:23: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” So if we want this invaluable gift of the indwelling of the Trinity within us, our part is to love Christ and keep his word, which he tells us is not his, but his Father’s, for “the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:24 NKJV).

 

 

We are living in challenging times. The secular world around us now largely accepts fundamentally evil actions as good: abortion, and now even infanticide, murder (euthanasia), and open sexual perversion, condemned by the New Testament (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 1:20-28), such as same-sex marriage and same-sex civil unions.

 

 

If this weren’t bad enough, many of our highest Church leaders are now preaching that Catholics can commit mortal sins with impunity if they enter into a process of discernment and accompaniment with an up-to-date pastor and are able to discern that such sinful behavior is God’s will for them in their difficult life situation. These Church leaders are telling them that they should not fear to commit these sins, because God is so merciful that he allows it and even considers these intrinsically evil actions, directly contrary to God’s normative biblically revealed moral law, to be virtuous actions by which we can grow in grace, holiness, and virtue by committing them.

 

 

Then, lest the fear of hell hold us back from committing these sins or disturb us, they add that there is no such thing as everlasting punishment, for, as they say, that’s not the logic of the gospel.

 

 

So many people, already seriously tempted by their passions and by the many temptations around them and constantly bombarded by the false voice of the world that they hear in the neo-pagan, post-Christian, anti-Christian, liberal mainstream media, which stridently promotes abortion and same-sex marriage as basic human rights – these Catholics are now further encouraged by many of their highest Church leaders to feel free to commit gravely sinful acts or even to live a life of constant grave sin by entering into a process of accompaniment and discernment with their pastor to help them feel at peace with their conscience about living in constant mortal sin.

 

 

This is no small problem. One expects to be tempted by one’s own passions and by the world around us, but what is new and surprising today is that even the highest leaders in the Church are also tempting us by telling us not to worry about the commandments, because God is merciful and he even leads us to break them if he sees that it would be too difficult for us to keep them.

 

 

How many people have already been deceived by these false teachers, by these wolves in sheep’s clothing? What is needed today for the renewal of the Church is for many people to be awakened by the horror of these false moral theories now being taught within the Church and to clearly proclaim the truth of God’s normative biblically revealed moral law in precisely those areas that the world and many high Church leaders have joined hands to attack.

 

 

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