What does the Bible say about absolutes?

Alone in his small plane, the pilot looked uneasily at the heavy, black clouds that were rapidly approaching. His fuel was getting low. Should he turn back? The airfield behind him was further than the one ahead. He decided to continue in spite of the dark clouds ahead.

Within minutes he was engulfed in an unbroken grayness that seemed to have no dimensions—no up, no down, no right, no left—only unchanging opaqueness. After a time he began to feel that his plane was climbing. Yet, a glance at his instruments assured him he was flying straight and level. Still, the impression that he was climbing persisted and grew stronger. Had his instruments gone awry? Could he trust them? Suppose they were faulty?

Finally, his impressions won. He decided something must have gone wrong with his instruments and that he had better not rely on them. So, he began to “fly by the seat of his pants,” as the saying among pilots goes.

Thus, it was that a farmer making his way under sullen overcast skies to his barn heard a plane flying dangerously low and, in a few moments, heard the dull explosion that told him it had crashed.

What had caused the tragedy? The pilot had an “absolute standard” by which to determine his position— his instruments. However, he decided to trust his impressions and feelings, rather than the instruments.

Everywhere today you hear the message, “There are no absolutes.” “Think what you want; say what you want; do what you want.” The philosophy of the multitudes seems to be that the only absolute is one’s own personal values, which means, “Do as you please.” Society’s rules, offering a degree of protection and stability, are the only thing hindering some people from doing whatever seems desirable or good to themselves. It was the same, at times, in the days of the Bible (see Judges 17:6, 21-15).

The result is a serious inability to know right from wrong. As the Bible puts it, “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!” (Isaiah 5:20). In contrast to this lack of absolute values, the Bible teaches that right and wrong, good and evil, are absolutes that are ultimately and immutably defined by God. He has placed in the human heart a recognition of these absolutes—the conscience—that tells us right from wrong. When a person goes so far in insubordination that he or she is no longer able to recognize this distinction, then destruction hovers.

Still, many today believe that they are able—and that they have the right—to choose their own values, that it is proper to create one’s values strictly with reference to oneself. The message of the Bible is anything but that. The Bible, in which God communicates to the human race, speaks of absolutes.

What is the source of the Bible? Is it simply the words of human beings? Or is it God speaking to us through its pages? More than 370 times in the Old Testament alone, Scripture is said to be the words of the Lord. Jeremiah 4:27 is one example: “Thus says the Lord. . .” The Bible explicitly claims to be the voice of God to us. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). “Prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, NKJV). So when God records His laws in the Bible, He is not simply giving us good advice. He is laying down absolute rules for living that are based on reality. God’s laws, recorded in the Bible, spring from His character and consistency.

Here are some Bible texts that describe God and His law as reflecting eternal, unchangeable moral absolutes:

“I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6, NKJV).

“Your statutes stand firm . . . O LORD” (Psalm 93:5, NIV).

“All His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever” (Psalm 111:7, 8, NKJV).

“Your word is truth” (John 17:17, NKJV).

“The word of God . . . lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23, NKJV)

 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35, NKJV).

“To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20, NKJV).

God will judge everyone on the basis of His absolute, eternal, unchangeable law. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether is it good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14, NIV). “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom” (James 2:12, NIV).

There is only one unchanging source of moral and spiritual truth and authority—God and His Word. God’s Word is as sacred as God Himself. This is an absolute that can serve as an anchor for our lives. The truth of God’s Word is an unchangeable reality. Like gravity or the multiplication tables, the truth of God’s Word is an absolute reality whether or not we believe it or accept it. In His Word, God has given us moral absolutes as a means of guiding us into satisfying, happy, productive lives.

This doesn’t mean that the Bible has a ready-made answer to every problem you will encounter. Answers and understanding do not always come quickly or without difficulty. But if you will search for God and His answers with all your heart—patiently, humbly, and with prayer—you will eventually find the answer you are needing. God promises, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV). The important thing is to firmly take the Bible as your compass, your source authority, and disregard the multitude of conflicting, contradictory voices all around you.

The Bible puts it like this: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5, NKJV).

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