Mental Reservation

Tuesday, June 13                         

There is no ethnic group in the world that does not have moral standards.  The problem is not morality; it’s living up to the  standard.  Most cultures simply skew the standard to accommodate their failure to live up to their code.  Some re-define moral standards to make adherence a bit more attainable.  We want to distinguish a little white lie from an egregious one.  During the Dark Ages Jesuits practiced mental reservation, or mental equivocation, depending on one’s point of view.  They were thus allowed to lie and deceive while in their minds they acknowledged that it was devious.  Before condemning them too harshly, take note that sinful man has been doing this sort of thing throughout history.  We excuse ourselves by statements such as “the end justifies the means” or “everybody is doing it.”  It takes a work of God’s grace to be any different.  Even after conversion, we have to deal with this “natural” inclination.  We can get so inured to this that we don’t even realize that we are breaking a moral code.  And that is why God gave the Israelites the Law.  The Law meticulously laid out what is right and wrong.  The end result of that—if taken seriously—is to recognize that God’s standard of conduct is way beyond our reach.  And that makes us search for an answer outside ourselves.  And that inclines us to listen to God’s answer.  He paid for our failure to live by the Law, declared us righteous on the basis of belief, and began a work of grace in us called sanctification, in which we gradually understand and practice the morality prescribed by a holy God.  It appears that God loves us!

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