Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we examine the relationship between moral choosing and spiritual growth.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
Moral Choosing and Spiritual Growth
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”” Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 52
"When reason once recognizes right and wrong, it exhibits wisdom; when wisdom chooses between right and wrong, truth and error, it demonstrates spirit leading. And thus are the functions of mind, soul, and spirit ever closely united and functionally interassociated. Reason deals with factual knowledge; wisdom, with philosophy and revelation; faith, with living spiritual experience. Through truth man attains beauty and by spiritual love ascends to goodness."
Brothers and sisters, "Every time man makes a reflective moral choice, he immediately experiences a new divine invasion of his soul. Moral choosing constitutes religion as the motive of inner response to outer conditions. But such a real religion is not a purely subjective experience. It signifies the whole of the subjectivity of the individual engaged in a meaningful and intelligent response to total objectivity--the universe and its Maker."
But before we proceed further, let’’s see if we can gain some additional insight into moral choosing. We know that we have a moral nature that can discern right from wrong--good from evil--and can choose between them. But do we always know which choice is good and which choice is evil? What is moral free will? What are moral acts? "Moral will embraces decisions based on reasoned knowledge, augmented by wisdom, and sanctioned by religious faith. Such choices are acts of moral nature and evidence the existence of moral personality... and eventually of true spirit status."
"Moral acts are those human performances which are characterized by the highest intelligence, directed by selective discrimination in the choice of superior ends as well as in the selection of moral means to attain these ends. Such conduct is virtuous. Supreme virtue, then, is wholeheartedly to choose to do the will of the Father in heaven."
Thus, we see that when we are presented with a situation that requires us to make a moral choice, to choose good over evil, knowledge about the situation and reason are required. Our ability to reason allows us to discern the superior end of the decision that we are making as well as to use righteous means to attain these ends. Thus, we see that not only must we see the end result of the decision that we are trying to make, but we must also use the right method to attain the ends. In short, the means is just as important as the end.
A moral ““decision”” implies that there must be two essential and different choices to be made. If every time we make a reflective moral choice, the divine spirit is able to spiritualize us a little bit more, then it stands to reason that the right choice must be sponsored by the heavenly Father, and the other choice must be sponsored by us. In other words, the right choice is sponsored by the divine nature, and the other choice is sponsored by the human nature. Because of the presence of the divine spirit living within our souls, we have one human and one divine nature. And since we have moral free will, we can recognize the two choices and choose between them.
We know that the purely human nature tends to be selfish and tends to drift towards evil. "Evil is the immature choosing and the unthinking misstep of those who are resistant to goodness, rejecting of beauty, and disloyal to truth. Evil is only the mis-adaptation of immaturity or the disruptive and distorting influence of ignorance. Evil is the inevitable darkness which follows upon the heels of the unwise rejection of light. Evil is that which is dark and untrue, and which, when consciously embraced and willfully endorsed, becomes sin. Without reflection or reasoning, the human will always choose the human nature, always choose evil. It is only when we reflect that we discern the right choice, the divine choice, the Father’’s will. And so we must go inside and reflect when we are trying to make a moral decision. And when we go inside, we consider the evil choice as well as the good choice. But we must remember while we deliberate that the evil choice, the human choice, as well as the good choice, the divine choice, are both potential choices until we choose one or the other.
"The possibility of evil is necessary to moral choosing, but not the actuality thereof. A shadow is only relatively real. Actual evil is not necessary as a personal experience. Potential evil acts equally well as a decision stimulus in the realms of moral progress on the lower levels of spiritual development. Evil becomes a reality of personal experience only when a moral mind makes evil its choice." When we choose one or the other, our choice becomes actual. And even though we may not be conscious that we are choosing evil at the time, the unconscious violation of the divine will, we are still choosing it. Failure to reflect prevents us from seeing the right choice, the divine choice.
"By nature, before the rebirth of the spirit, mortal man is subject to inherent evil tendencies, but such natural imperfections of behavior are neither sin nor iniquity. Mortal man is just beginning his long ascent to the perfection of the Father in Paradise. To be imperfect or partial in natural endowment is not sinful. Man is indeed subject to evil, but he is in no sense the child of the evil one unless he has knowingly and deliberately chosen the paths of sin and the life of iniquity. Evil is inherent in the natural order of this world, but sin is an attitude of conscious rebellion which was brought to this world by those who fell from spiritual light into gross darkness.””
Because of our human status, we need the contrast of evil to choose good. If there were no divine nature within us, we could only choose the choice of our human nature. But because of the divine nature, we can discern the two choices and choose between them. Thus, we don’’t have to actually choose the evil to know that it is evil; the fact that we can examine it before we choose it serves as a stimulus to choose the good, to choose the Father’’s will. We can look before we leap. "The human mind does not create real values; human experience does not yield universe insight. Concerning insight, the recognition of moral values and the discernment of spiritual meanings, all that the human mind can do is to discover, recognize, interpret, and choose."
The goal of the divine spirit is to change the meaning of selfish values to unselfish ones, and then to elevate the meanings of these unselfish values until they reach supreme levels, and then maintain the meanings of these supreme unselfish values at divine levels.
Going back to our original quote: "Every time man makes a reflective moral choice, he immediately experiences a new divine invasion of his soul." Reflective moral choices must be the fabric that the divine spirit uses to weave itself into our soul, thus making it possible for our souls to become spiritualized. In doing so, the spirit makes it possible for our souls to fuse with it. As we continue to make moral choices and the divine spirit continues to invade our souls, we increasingly become conscious of spiritual reality, the divine spirit.
Now we are ready to state the relationship between moral choosing and spiritual growth. In order to survive this life and obey the Father’’s eternal command, we must develop a righteous character, a moral character, a character capable of choosing good over evil. Moral choosing is the fabric which the divine spirit uses to intertwine our souls with his, to in effect become one with the divine spirit.
This concludes today's message on understanding the relationship between moral choosing and spiritual growth. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.