If we don’t value God for who he really is, then our behavior, which is intended to be the outgrowth of our valuing of God, is going to reflect that skewed understanding of God.
The very essence of morality is not the deed we’re doing—for example, not stealing, or helping somebody change a tire on a bitter cold winter night. The essence of the morality there is not the deed. The essence of it is the mindset out of which the deed is growing. It is the deed together with the mindset. If the mindset has roots in a flawed perception of God, then the God that is being reflected through the deed is going to be a flawed God. He is going to be a flawed reflection.
The reason we tend to think that morality is not very much affected by a flawed view of God is because we don’t understand the essence of morality as the mindset, the motive, and the display of God.
This is why, by the way, I have a little problem with talking about a “Judeo-Christian ethic.” If you say “Judeo,” meaning Jews who do not believe in Jesus Christ but hold to the Ten Commandments, then you’re introducing a flaw into worship that is utterly profound. The New Testament is written to say that those who do not honor the Son do not honor the Father. So the concept of a Judeo-Christian ethic as the goal to which we’re aiming is profoundly mistaken.
Ethics has to flow out of a true view of God, and to reject Jesus Christ is to have an absolutely flawed view of God. Therefore the ethic that flows from it as morality is going to be flawed.
Even if some of the behavior is the same, the point of ethics is not merely the kernel or the shell of the behavior, but the inner convictions of the mind, the disposition of the heart, and the goal of what we’re displaying. And if Jesus Christ is omitted from that, I don’t think we have Christian ethics or morality.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org