Oswald Chambers on a moral imperative


Oswald Chambers
Oswald Chambers

Every man has an imperative something within him which makes him say “I ought,” even in the most degraded specimens of humanity the “ought” is there, and the Bible tells us where it comes from—it comes from God. The modern tendency is to leave God out and make our standard what is most useful to man. The utilitarian says that these distinct laws of conduct have been evolved by man for the benefit of man—the greatest use to the greatest number. That is not the reason a thing is right; the reason a thing is right is that God is behind it. God’s “oughts” never alter; we never grow out of them. Our difficulty is that we find in ourselves this attitude—“I ought to do this, but I won’t”; “I ought to do that, but I don’t want to.” That puts out of court the idea that if you teach men what is right they will do it—they won’t; what is needed is a power which will enable a man to do what he knows is right. We may say “Oh I won’t count this time”; but every bit of moral wrong is counted by God. The moral law exerts no coercion, neither does it allow any compromise. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Once we realize this we see why it was necessary for Jesus Christ to come. The Redemption is the Reality which alters inability into ability.

Can those of us who claim the name of Christ be honest and admit that we often find excuses to justify doing the wrong thing? Perhaps if we were more honest about this and less vocal about the failings of others, the world would see the church as something other than a bunch of judgmental hypocrites. Yes, I know that we are often unfairly criticised, but we need to own the times when the criticism is justified.

Also, we need to be more vocal about our inability to live up to any standard. As Chambers points out, our inability is why we need a savior. In Jesus we have a savior who “alters inability into ability.”