Scripture gives us our moral bearing. It orients us to what’s right and wrong. For example, Paul says, ‘I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “Do not covet”’ (Romans 7:7). If God didn’t reveal his moral will, we would stagger from sea to sea searching for it. Yet, we would never find it.
Sin has damaged our moral compass. We need an external objective reference point whereby we can judge our thoughts, attitudes and actions. When pilots fly in poor weather conditions, they’re prone to what flight experts call “spatial disorientation.” Spatial disorientation occurs when a pilot can’t see a visible horizon and tries to navigate by his senses. Without an objective point of reference, the pilot literally can’t tell “which way is up.” His perception no longer agrees with reality.
Spatial disorientation may lead to sensory illusions, which may cause the pilot to lose control of the aircraft. Pilots call the most common sensory illusion the “graveyard spiral.” The pilot feels a sensation that his wings are maintaining level flight. But in reality, his aircraft has entered a steep turning-dive. This sensory illusion often proves fatal.
That’s why flight instructors train their students to fly only using their cockpit instruments. “Flying by the instruments” gives you an objective way to judge your direction, altitude and speed. In the same way, Scripture supplies us with an objective moral standard by which we can compare our attitudes and actions.
If we trust our own sense of right and wrong, it will leave us morally disoriented. And that could lead to disaster. Or as the author of Proverbs puts it: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).