Can We Separate Conduct from Character?

In Daily Devotional by Garth Leno

Theme of the Week: Staying On Course

Bible Verse: “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

Scripture Reading: Titus 1:1-16

If moral turbulence could be measured in the Richter scale, then the “soulquake” that is currently taking place in North America would warrant a solid ten. Although many factors have contributed to this moral shaking, at the core of it lies a radical failure in character.

What is character? The Pocket Oxford Dictionary defines it as “moral strength.” But what is meant by “moral”? In this day of slippery semantics, the word boasts nearly as many definitions as there are people. Having done away with the notion of absolute truth, we have, for the last thirty years, lived by the philosophy that “moral” is what each person determines it to be. “Whatever!” “As long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.” “If it feels good, that’s cool!” Hence, the era of moral relativism and situational ethics.

Since character is rooted in morality, then according to the dictates of moral relativism, character too is what each person determines it to be. Given the essential depravity of fallen human nature void of absolute truth, such a relativistic philosophy eventually produces a society in which right is wrong and wrong is right.

When a builder constructs a wall, he uses a plumb line to ascertain whether or not the wall is straight. That plumb line is the builder’s standard of truth. Without it, he would find it virtually impossible to build a straight wall, and the resulting structure would be dangerously weakened and eventually crumble and fall. The same principle applies in building a society. Without a moral plumb line – a standard of absolute truth – a society will eventually crumble and fall.

Without truth there can be no character. Truth is the seed from which the tree of character grows, and moral conduct is the fruit of that tree. Jesus Christ observed that “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:18), for as is the root, so is the fruit. Just as a tree is known by its fruit, so is a man’s character known by his conduct.

When we try to separate conduct from character, we advance the lie of relativism that makes right wrong and wrong right. Only destruction can result: “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 the nineteenth century, Alexis de Tocqueville wisely discerned that America was great because she was good, and that when America ceased to be good, she would cease to be great. The indifference toward character that we are witnessing today is a danger signal that both America and Canada are ceasing to be good. If we continue on this path, we will surely cease to be great as well.

Content taken from Staying on Course by Dr. Garth Leno, ©2001. Used with permission.


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About
Garth Leno
Garth Leno is a powerful and passionate communicator who loves to preach and teach the Word of God. His practical, relevant application of Bible truth helps people understand how to live. He has served in churches in Saskatchewan, Illinois, Alberta, and Ontario. From 1999-2003 he was on staff with Samaritan's Purse - Canada as a Regional Director. He now serves as the President of WORDfirst Ministries of Canada and Senior Pastor of The Gathering in Windsor, Ontario. Garth enjoys a fruitful Bible-teaching ministry in local churches, Bible conferences, retreats, family camps, and missions conferences.
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Garth Leno
Garth Leno is a powerful and passionate communicator who loves to preach and teach the Word of God. His practical, relevant application of Bible truth helps people understand how to live. He has served in churches in Saskatchewan, Illinois, Alberta, and Ontario. From 1999-2003 he was on staff with Samaritan's Purse - Canada as a Regional Director. He now serves as the President of WORDfirst Ministries of Canada and Senior Pastor of The Gathering in Windsor, Ontario. Garth enjoys a fruitful Bible-teaching ministry in local churches, Bible conferences, retreats, family camps, and missions conferences.