Romans 2:16 says “God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ.” Romans 2:16.
Paul said earlier, “5But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:” Romans 2:5-6
In these warnings we see the important points of doctrine that man will meet God and be judged
John Quincy Adams said, “There are three points of doctrine, the belief of which, forms the foundation of all morality. The first is, the existence of a God ; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is, a future state of rewards and punishments.”
Adams was right, I believe that these are the basis for morality. But is it enough?
Let us explore and come to some conclusions.
Paul says in Romans 1 that when man rejects God, society devolves and becomes depraved.
“28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Romans 1
There is a direct, not an inverse, not even an indirect, but a direct relationship between belief in God and morality in society. As belief in God decreases, morality decreases.
So I have no disagreement with Adams’ assertion.
Atheism is empty.
What do atheists say is the basis of morality because they deny that it’s God?
They deny the charge they are immoral and insist they are just as moral as believers in God.
If they are, it’s only true in theory and not in practice.
Imagine buying a superior extended warranty that literally covers everything bumper to bumper versus buying a competitors extended warranty program that claims to be just as good – that is once you have paid extra deductibles and if you understand you might be disappointed to find that the specific problem your car has isn’t counted in the bumper to bumper program.
It’s like that when atheists claim to be just as moral as Christians. All that glitters isn’t gold, and claiming it doesn’t make it true.
They have no standard, and so they must suggest they align with the high standards given in the Bible.
But in the real world, you begin to see the truth that atheism is about NO RULES, rebellion from the moral dictates of religion, and even hostility against the moralizing of Christianity.
Hence, listen to atheists long enough and you’ll see they can’t be what they openly defy.
Man without God has no center, no source, no maker, no law, no rules.
Why is morality contingent upon believing in God? If there is no God, then there is no spiritual, only material. Without God, we are just matter, inexplicably alive, but still just matter and no more moral than a rock is.
Paul showed in Romans 1 that as men turn away from God, sinfulness increases. Man, society, government, judges, fathers and mothers, employers, are going to be more just if they acknowledge the existence of God.
Humans are expected to be moral.
Solomon said, “20All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. 21Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?” Eccl. 3:20-21. And Jude said of people who act without morals, “10But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.” Jude 10.
We are different from all living things. We have higher expectations for moral conduct from humans that we do from animals. Animals, soulless animals, have no moral dilemmas. Animals don’t undergo a “moral crisis”. And Lifeless matter does not wrestle with a conscience. But man is said to be made like God with a conscience, a heart, a choosing will, and with the responsibility to do good and shun evil.
The reason men have so much anxiety and hopelessness is because they haven’t stopped wrestling against what they know is right.
God breathed into Adam’s nose the breath of Life and he became a living soul, Gen. 2:7.
James said not to curse men because man is made in the likeness of God, Jas. 3:9.
In the next chapter of James says to Christians who are dividing their time between God and the world. James calls them adulteresses and “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us” Jas 4:5.
David said in the 8th Psalm, “4What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? 5Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!…” Ps 8:4, cf Heb 2:6-8
The Bible reminds us that man is special in all of the creation. The intrinsic value of the soul, noble and the image of God, ennobles and elevates man to attain to the nature of God, to be like Christ. It is in knowing the value of the soul that we wisely reject immoral paths. To know the value of the soul is required lest we sell our souls to gain a few pleasures now
How can we have faith and virtue unless we know our true value invested in us by Almighty God? We can’t.
At the heart here, at the heart of faith and virtue, is our perception of what we are. Man will act differently towards others depending on whether he thinks man is an Immortal creature or just a dog. Hitler said Jews were pigs which are killed much easier than humans. Abortionists say the unborn child is not human, but just a mass of cells, akin to a mass of cancer cells, which is more easily removed and destroyed.
God loved me when I was sinful, showing He loved me.
Believing in a power God changes your actions. Believing in the loving God, changes your heart.
We need to know our our true nature if we are to be faith and holy people.
Jesus means that men may put lesser things in this life ahead of the interest of the soul.
Here we have all the elements necessary to appeal to moral society on the basis of a final judgment. Only a life of sacrifice, denial, and following Christ can secure the soul’s destiny when Jesus comes in His glory on the final day.
See, the alternative is if we just live and die, then who cares! It’s all about getting out of this life whatever is my thrill. Maybe on my bucket list then I’d just to Rob a bank and go out in a blaze of glory. Or maybe I’ll just throw myself into a promiscuous lifestyle and wait for it to kill me. Who cares if there is no judgment!
The Thessalonians received extra guidance on understanding that life after death is a Certainty. Paul minced no words on the subject of God’s coming earth. “wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” 1 These 1:10
Christians answer “why are you moral?” because we don’t want eternal punishment from God.
Is there an element of fear? Undoubtedly. Unquestionably. Jesus said, “Don’t fear the one who can only destroy the body but cannot destroy the soul. Rather, fear Him who can destroy body and soul in hell.”
But there is a judgment. Heb 9:27; 2 Cor 5:10.
As I give more thought to John Quincy Adams’ reflections on what is the foundation for morality, I see a lesson on how to make this world better. That’s for sure.
Naturalism does not work here and it does not get anyone to heaven. Naturalistic philosophy claims it will give Utopia, but here it will only give dystopia, and no hope beyond the grave. So we must agree with Adams that these three are necessary.
Man needs to know God is real. Man needs to understand He is created special in God’s image. And man needs to know that the choices we make in this life have eternal consequences.
But there’s something else we need as the basis for morality and salvation.
 We need faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
God will judge our immortal souls through Jesus Christ which we are not ready for if we have not put our faith in Jesus and have obeyed the Gospel.
“God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” Romans 2:16.
Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” Jn 8:24.
Only Christ explains our life. Only Christ gives meaning and worth to life. And only Christ gives hope in heaven.
This is why Jesus sent the disciples out into the world, not to preach their feelings, not psychology, not the human morality that would please an atheist, but go and preach the cross, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. And he adds, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”
What a great plan for mankind to prosper not only on this earth, but in Christ Jesus to have an eternal home!
And what a great plan of redemption in Christ Jesus that all who believe and confess the Lordship of Jesus, who repent of their sins, and are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can be saved with their names written in the book of life.