Can We Know Absolute Right From Wrong?


Welcome! Thanks for joining us for this, our latest post in this year-long blog series we’re calling “Journey Together.” In this post we ask a HUGE question that many believe impossible to answer: “Can we know absolute right from wrong?”

Let’s cut to the chase on answering this, as we look at the 3-point checklist Josh McDowell uses for making sound moral choices.


absolute right from wrong

If It’s Legal, It’s Moral…Right?

If you were to vote on whether absolute truth is knowable, would you cast your vote as yay or nay?

Chances are high you’d vote nay, as our increasingly secular society has been quite successful in selling us on the fallacy that truth is entirely subjective. “My truth is my truth, and your truth is your truth.” But can you and I really base truth on subjective preference? Can our society, as a whole, do so and manage to survive?

Josh, in his video on discerning right from wrong, states, “Legality has nothing to do with morality.” This is a critical point, people! Because if morality is determined by what is legal, does that mean that when the law changes, morality also changes? Is morality really that fluid?

In an online article titled “Is God really good?” the writer reminds us that “God is the author of logic and truth, so God’s Word should be high on the priority list when analyzing anything critically. In fact, without the biblical God, there is no logical basis for using the laws of logic, which flow from His nature.”

Adds the writer, if there is no absolute standard of morality, everyone would do what his own collection of atoms in his brain told him to do — be it murdering someone who got in his way, or taking food from someone who had more than he did.

But it’s this line in the article that sums up why we, ourselves, can’t be the absolute standard for morality: “Why would the collection of atoms that compose my brain be any better at determining what is ‘right’ than the next person’s?”


Aligning Our Morals With God

Yet society does push that “right” and “wrong” is entirely subjective! That only an old-fashioned fool would hold to a one-size-fits-all moral code. But this isn’t true. And deep down we all know it. We know when we’re choosing sin but justifying it. God tells us in His Word that He creates us with this soul knowledge.

Listen, it doesn’t matter what our parents or pastor taught us. Our moral code isn’t “right” because it reflects our family values. It’s not right because it “feels” right to us. It’s not right because it follows the majority view. And it’s certainly not right because an authority figure (or government) condones or enforces it.

Our moral code is correct only when it aligns with God’s person and character. We can’t pin our moral code on what our college professors think, what our friends think, what our parents think, or even what our pastors think. Only what God says.


Josh’s Three Steps for Making Moral Choices God’s Way

Josh notes that God is just, righteous, and pure—because each of these aspects reflect His character. If we profess to follow Jesus, our personal moral code should reflect our commitment to reflect Him, not our selfish desires. We are called to get past our innate selfishness and align our moral choices with God’s standard of absolute right.

Josh’s three steps:

1. Accept that only God has the authority to define absolute right and wrong.

2. Compare the choice you’re making to God’s standard. Do they align? Or are you twisting Scripture, or taking it out of context, to affirm the choice you want to make?

3. Count on God’s blessings when you choose His righteousness. Now, the immediate return on our doing right may initially lead to negative consequences — we might lose friends, family, or even our career. But in the long run, God promises us His grace, protection, and provision when we align our lifestyle with His standard.

We’re not being progressive or “enlightened” when we base our morality on a standard other than God’s. We’re choosing to disregard the Creator who loves us more than life itself. It’s that simple.


In our next blog post, let’s look further at why God, not society or people, should be our standard.

Catch up: The introductory post to this series.

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