To put it another way, are there worldly standards that we should not observe?
Thinking about this world and the life we live in it, there are many standards that can affect our life and how we live it. As a retired engineer, I know of many engineering standards that are intended to keep us safe and protected from injury. These cover things like building and bridge design and transport safety for airlines, roads, cars, railroads and many other areas.
There are also medical standards which doctors are required to follow. Unfortunately, humans are not standardized; we have many differences, and what may be effective for one patient may not be effective for another. But as long as a doctor follows the standards as laid down, he is immune from censure, no matter how effective and helpful or dangerous and inappropriate those standards are, and what the outcome for the patient is. However, any doctor who goes against the decreed standards for the benefit of his patients has the potential of being dismissed from his profession, even though deviating from those standards would have been the right thing to do.
Community standards for social media platforms have also been brought to our notice lately, especially since the social media platform Twitter has a new owner who has revealed the illegal censorship with the help and at the direction of government departments. They have been requiring social media platforms to hide truths that they did not want us to know for various political, economic or other reasons. The excuse usually given for this censorship is that the comments or truths did not comply with the “community standards” of the social media platform. These so-called “community standards” are not publicly defined or even applied impartially.
Various religions also have their standards. The Catholic Church previously did not accept homosexuality and transgenderism in their congregations, according to the immutable teaching of the Church on sexuality as stated in their catechism. However, over the recent past, the number of attendees has been dropping; so, in order to try to increase attendance, the chief bishop in the Diocese of Limburg, Germany, has mandated for all church leaders in his diocese to accept those who were previously banned because of un-natural sexuality, without any requirement for repentance. So, this prior standard was observed until it was not convenient due to the change in public morals, and it is now being ignored in at least one part of Germany.
Food standards have recently been changed in some countries—and especially throughout Europe—to allow what was previously considered a contaminant, i.e. various kinds of insects, to be now used as a source of protein and as an alleged attempt to reduce global warming. Apparently, according to proponents, insects do not use as much water as livestock and do not emit the same level of pollutants, but many scientists have pointed out that eating insects may be dangerous to our health.
So, in our lives, which standards should we observe, and which, if any, should we not follow? And, more to the point, how do we tell the difference? There is certainly a way to determine this, and God has provided the way.
Of course, when we look at God’s Word, the word “standard” or “standards” is used but refers mainly to the banner under which the tribes of Israel assembled. In some cases, it refers to the banner representing the whole house of Israel as opposed to other nations. So, God’s standards are not described as such.
But then, we know that God certainly has given us standards by which we should live. They are called commandments (or laws), judgments and statutes. And each of these is mentioned well over a hundred times in the Bible.
God instructed the children of Israel how they should live at the time just preceding their entry into the land He had promised them. Deuteronomy 30:15-16 shows us the benefits God intended if these standards were kept: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.”
Previous to this, in Deuteronomy 4:5-6, God explained that His Statutes and Judgments, if they were kept, were for the people’s wisdom and understanding in the sight of other nations: “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” Deuteronomy 4:8 continues, “And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?”
So these are the standards God expects us to abide by in our lives today.
There is one particular biblical writer who made constant mention of the laws, statutes and judgments of God in a totally positive light. This, of course, was David, and his writings are mainly in the book of Psalms. In Psalm 1:2, we read the alternative of a sinner: “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His Law he meditates day and night.” He meditates to understand the application of God’s commandments. In other words, he continually seeks to understand how he should live by God’s standards. And he finds them a delight.
Psalm 19, also written by David, is very revealing of his attitude towards God’s Ways. In Psalm 19:7-11, we note David’s attitude: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.”
We see the words, “delight,” “perfect,” “sure,” “right,” “pure,” “clean,” “true,” “righteous,” “sweet” and “great reward.” This is how David, a man after God’s heart, held onto God’s Way of Life. All his descriptions are totally positive. And when we consider that these commandments, statutes and judgements are God’s standards, then the answer to the afore-mentioned question is that we can compare the world’s standards with God’s standards and where there is no conflict, then the world’s standards can be lived by.
However, to answer the initial question of what worldly standards we should not observe or comply with, we note that the world’s standards, especially in the area of morality and in the area of food, are changing and moving away from God’s standards. In these cases, we must always put God’s standards first and live by them, rather than the standards of the world.