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  • Writer's pictureTroy Spradlin

The Importance of a Good Moral Compass! | Episode 7

[Episode Transcript]


HOW IS YOUR MORAL COMPASS?

Episode 7 - aired January 9, 2023


Ever seen someone trying to use a tool that didn’t really know how to use it? It can be quite funny to watch and sometimes sad, especially when it seems obvious how to use it, but for some reason the person just doesn’t get it. That happens sometimes. Well, I see an important spiritual application in that illustration.


Introduction

Today, I want to encourage you and help you with your spiritual journey by looking at an important subject - it’s about a tool that has been given to us to help us in life. But for some reason, some people don’t know how to use this tool, or it seems like they have broken it, or for some reason, they just don’t get it. …. The tool I am talking about is … our moral compass. It is one of the most important cognitive mechanisms that we have in our tool kit for coping with life … it is our moral compass.


Now, "Cognitive Mechanisms" are the simply processes that people use when they receive information, and then think about, interpret it, and evaluate what they received, which it results in how they respond to that information. And that fits the description of a moral compass absolutely perfectly ……

Here’s why I think this is an important topic to discuss:

Does it not seem like we are living in a time where fewer and fewer people are operating with a good moral compass? I see behavior in some people that appear have no compass at all, or no real direction in their lives, they certainly don’t know how to use the tool they’ve been given, so they just do whatever they want … and think it is okay. Have you noticed that too? I know a lot of you do, because you’re Christians.

I am not saying people can’t do what they want, what I am saying is that there are boundaries to what we can do that pertain to right and wrong. There are rewards and consequences for all of our actions. This is not something I simply believe, because I am not the one who put these parameters in place - someone far greater than me did - that being God!

The Bible teaches everything we need to know for understanding the boundaries and it ultimately leads us to the realization that God has given us a special tool to guide us in life - a moral compass. Sometimes we just need to calibrate that compass or re-calibrate it from time to time and we can do that by going to Scripture!

While it can be easy to get discouraged by what we see in our society today - just realize that people have always been that way. We see examples of that also in the Bible. Specifically, this happened to the people of Israel who were living in the times of the Judges - more than 3000 years ago. They had definitely lost their moral compass - they weren’t going in right direction. Their example serves a good reminder for us - of what NOT to do!

LOSING YOUR BEARINGS

Look with me in your Bibles at a story found in the book of Judges, (Judges 17-18) where Israel lost their compass bearing. They had lost the sense of who God truly is. They broke their relationship with God, and they weren’t fully aware of it. Their moral compass was so far offtrack that they were going in the wrong direction! They desperately needed assitance in guidance - they needed a compass!


We’ll start in Judges 17:1-13 - Losing your Bearings

Ever done that? Lost your bearings? I have and one time I started driving in the wrong direction. I got a long ways down the highway before I realized what’s going on! The whole time I was driving … everything seemed fine, I even thought, “We’re making good time!” Then, I started to notice something was wrong, I even began to panic, then it dawned on me, I WAS LOST! That’s what’s happening here. Israel is going in the wrong direction and they haven’t realized it yet!

In this part of their history, Israel had degenerated to the point of full blown apostasy and idolatry - all rolled into one. They did not seem to know just how LOST they really were. They presumed that God was still with them and that life would go on as usual.

The truth is, we too don’t always know when we are lost. It takes some time - or self realization. We can easily be deluded by false belief and not realize it.

Look at the situation here. V1 - We are introduced to a man named Micah. V2 - we then read where his mother was rich and … he had stolen eleven hundred shekels of silver from her! From his own mother! That’s a lot of money!

We then read where she placed a curse on the thief, not knowing it was her own son who had stolen from her. The curse was apparently severe enough to scare her son into confessing what his crime! So, he confessed … but what followed wasn’t a reprimand or even an offer of guilt before God. Instead, her response was, “The Lord bless you, my son!” Wait, what? Why would she say that? Why did she not correct or punish her son or set things right? Instead, look what she says in V3 “I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image” - she decides to consecrate the stolen, now returned silver, to the Lord. And How? Even more crazy: by making carved and molded idols out of it!

Wow! So in one breath, she consecrates the money to God and then makes an idol out of it to worship. In other words, she pays lip service to God and then sins against God at the same time. This is completely outrageous - but it’s true - these are real people and real events. And she was oblivious to the irony of it all.

And .. It gets worse - V5 - after making the idol, Micah later installed one of his sons as his personal priest, which is also against God’s commands because only Levites were permitted by God to serve as priests (see Deut 18:1).

In V7, along comes a young Levite from Bethlehem. You see, sadly, also a part of their history at that time, was people no longer worship God in the Tabernacle at Shiloh like they had been commanded to do. They were not making sacrifices and so, the support for the Levites evaporated. This explains why this young Levite is searching for a place to live. He’s broke and hungry! He is now a “priest for hire” if you will, so Micah offers to pay him and house him.

Here’s where we can make application to us today: Do people still do this today? Do they still make up their OWN religions/idols? Set up their own faith. Appoint their own priests and so forth. Sadly, yes, they sure do! Because of being misguided.

When this Levite came to work for Micah, listen to what he says (Judges 17:13): “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.” Sad. Sad, because … He was so misguided he actually thought God would bless him now because he had a REAL Levite living under his roof and serving the idols he made.

Micah had become so comfortable with what was wrong, with that which was a violation of God’s will, with what was clearly a wrong direction, that it had become what was right to him. What is wrong was now right.

Isaiah 5:20-21 talks about this - Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!

Doesn’t that sound a lot like what we are seeing in America today? Does that not perfectly describe what we are hearing on the news and stuff? It is a sign of a malfunctioning moral compass. Compasses can lose there calibration, magnetism making them worthless.

Okay - so everything that we’ve read so far is just blatantly wrong, in absolutely every way and yet it still happened. It happened because the people’s moral compass was broken. They were confused. They do not know right from wrong. Thus, they were going the wrong direction! They obviously weren’t heeding the Word of God.

Here’s a truth: people are lost without God. When there is no reliable, trustworthy reference point, then everyone just does what they want. So, does that mean that we can we do whatever we like? Well, no because even creation itself doesn’t just do whatever it likes, it follows the laws of nature, the laws of science. Water does not flow uphill. An apple will still fall to the earth because of gravity. Fire will still burn you. You can’t get something from nothing. Same principles applies to us, just as we are subject to the laws of nature, we must also follow the spiritual laws that God has set in place. They do not change.

This not only seen in OT, it happened in NT:

Romans 1:21-23 Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man

This is what is happening to our world today. For many people there is NO absolute truth. There is no absolute right or wrong. There is no God. They think you get to personally decide what is good and right and fitting for you. But that is NOT truth! Our Father in Heaven, Our Almighty God is not an UNKNOWN God - He is real, He is One, He is sovereign, and He demands that we worship HIM and nothing else. So, what we learn here is we need to be careful with our moral compasses. Pay attention to what direction we are going! Or we might get lost.

Judges 18:1-31

The next scene with Micah is in chapter 18. “There was no king in Israel.” The inspired writer wrote that to emphasize that they were so misguided they would eventually need a king to lead them back into righteousness and truth - we see that happen in their history with David.

We also learn that the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for itself to dwell in.

V2-6: they sent out five spies to go search the land. They go by Micah’s house and recognize the voice of the Levite that Micah had hired to be his priest. They ask the Levite what he is doing there and he explains that he has been hired by Micah. So they ask the Levite to inquire of the Lord whether they will succeed in finding land to occupy. The Levite tells them to “go in peace for the Lord is watching over their journey.”

Now, this is answer is obviously suspicious because he is not a legitimate priest and he did not truly inquire of the Lord. He simply gives the answer that the tribe of Dan wanted to hear. Ever known someone like that? Who just answer what you want to hear - “yes” men?

V7-19: So the spies go on to find an isolated town several miles from there, called Laish, then go back and report to the rest of their people. Dan puts together a small army of 600 men to go take the land around Laish. On the way, they pass through the tribal lands of Ephraim, where Micah lives. They wind up going into Micah’s house, steal his idols, the ephod, and the household gods! The Levite who lives there asks them what they think they are doing, and they tell him to keep quiet and even to come with them because it would be better to be a priest for a tribe than for one person.

Verse 20 says that the Levite was glad to go and took his place among them with the idols and everything. He was given an offer, so he took it. See what I mean by a broken moral compass? Has this priest’s “North” changed once again? I thought he had found his North!

V22-24: When Micah finds out, he and some of the neighbors band together and track down these people of Dan who had stolen from him. Now don’t forget that this is the guy who earlier had stolen from his mother! So, when Micah catches up with the people of Dan, they say, “What is the matter with you, that you come with such a company?” Micah says, “"You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and you have gone away. Now what more do I have? How can you say to me, ‘What is the matter with you?”

Okay, … are you seeing the irony of all of this? If your god can be stolen, broken, or lost, then it is not a god at all! Read Isaiah 44 - folly of idolatry

V25-26: The people of Dan respond that if he says anything more, then they are going to kill him, everyone with him, and his family. And then the people of Dan leave and there was nothing Micah could do about it because as V26 says, when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house.

Now the sad part of the story is that the Levite is a grandson of Moses (18:30). So this teaches us that within two generations we see just how far a people can go from godliness to immorality. It is a pitiful picture of the state of affair in Israel. How easy it happens!

Why did the people of Dan prevail? Were they right? No. Was God on their side? No. They prevailed simply because they were stronger than Micah. This is what happens to society when people live according to what is right in their own eyes. The stronger will rule over the weaker. The weak have no real rights. The weak are not protected. Might makes right. That is the only real rule of law.

When people live by what is right in their own eyes - then it leads to the destruction of the innocent, weak, and the powerless. They are the first to be ruined in a society ruled by the law of what is right in one’s own eyes.


V31 - What is True North?

So, they set up for themselves Micah's carved image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh. All of this took place while God’s tabernacle - His dwelling place among the people - was still in Shiloh. In other words, God had not abandoned them! They had abandoned Him!

The people had turned their hearts away from the Lord here in the time of the Judges - and this is exactly what we are seeing around us today! Yet, all anyone had to do was simply go up to Shiloh - set their compass in that direction and go inquire of the Lord, worship Him and serve Him and He would bless them as He had always done.

That is the same application for us - even though there are many who have turned their backs on God, whose moral compass is broken, God is STILL among us - He is within reach of all of us - Paul said that in Acts 17

So, don’t think you can do what you think is right in your own eyes, do what is RIGHT in His eyes. Seek God!

The Bible is like modern day GPS - Global Positioning System like we have in our phones and in our cars. There are these satellites in orbit and the transmit signals that our devices pick up to tell us where we are and how to get to where we want to go. No matter where we are in the world, we can use that system to provide direction, coordinates, and location and therefore NEVER get lost.

Our relationship with God is just like that. Perhaps we could call the Bible our GPS = GOD Positioning System = putting God where He is supposed to be, the true North, satellite that is there, ready to guide us in the right direction. (I know - cheesy - but hopefully it will help you remember:

God is alive and He is actively involved in our lives. He sends us signals of His truths from His Word, information that we need to know, to help us navigate our way through life.

But just like a GPS receiver, we have to do our part, maintain an unobstructed line of communication with Him. By praying, reading the Bible and we listen to what is written in His Holy Word.


CONCLUSION

I really hope that this has encouraged you today! I hope you will pick up your Bible and read this passage again, knowing what you know about it now. I hope it will help you when you to think about just how important having a strong moral compass truly is.

Thanks so much for joining me here on the 1Theophilus podcast. If this has helped you, please tell others about this podcast so perhaps it will help them too.

Remember, always keep your eyes on Jesus and God bless!

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