Tim Keller provides this interesting commentary what our culture values most:
“Former generations in Western society believed it was most important for someone to be a good person. Today in the West, our values shifted, and out cultural narrative tells us it is most important to be a free person.” (Tim Keller, Center Church, 127)
The former ethic of “goodness” leads to the self-righteous attitude that if I act good then I must be good. The current ethic of “freedom” leads to licentiousness because I’m free to do whatever satisfies me. Many Christian seem to be longing for the “good ole days” of moral virtue when the “ethic of goodness” dominated. Many are engaged in a fight with the “ethic of freedom” & they are armed only with the “ethic of goodness.” Here’s the problem, neither one is the truth. Neither “ethic” is consistent with the Gospel.
The Gospel says that no one is good. We have all chosen idolatry instead of God. In other words, we find meaning & fulfillment in things other than God. As a result, we are enslaved by these “things.” For instance, if I find meaning in my reputation I will become a slave to the opinions of other people & as a result will be willing to lie in order to maintain my reputation. The bible calls this sin, and we are all guilty of it. It doesn’t matter how much we commit ourselves & our culture to the “ethic of good” we cannot avoid the consequences of idolatrous sin. This is why Christ Jesus came. He died & rose so that our idolatry could be dealt with & his righteousness could be provided. As a result, we are not saved through the “ethic of good” and we are not fulfilled through the “ethic of freedom.” We are saved only by believing in Christ Jesus & receiving the grace he provides in the Gospel. We are fulfilled only when we are worshiping God through the Gospel.
The “ethic of goodness” is offering salvation & the “ethic of freedom” is offering fulfillment. Neither is worth fighting for because neither one can deliver on its promises. The Gospel is the only path to salvation & fulfillment. If people are going to be saved they must accept this, & if Christians are going to be effective then we must fight for this alone.