Is an act good because God commands it?

If you said yes here, you would be in error.

Because God is sovereign and all-powerful, this implies that morality is subject to God’s whim as He is capable of enforcing His commands. An act is good because God simply says so, not because it is inherently good; the difference between good and evil does not matter to God.

This view is in contrast to Christianity. Morality is not based on whim. God is not inconsistent, and He does not lie.

For example, the Psalmist tells us, "For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteousness. The upright will behold His face." (Ps 11:7)

"Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in His ways." (Ps 25:8)

In revealing God’s immutable character and promises to Israel, Balaam shares God’s message to Balak, king of Moab, who had sought to curse the Israelites, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?" (Num 23:19)

In commenting about responding to temptation, James reveals, "Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God;’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." (Jam 1:13)

©2003 A resource for learning how to read the Bible.