BUSHIDO (Way of the Warrior)

The Samurai warriors of Japan adopted a code of conduct commensurate with their acquired honor, privileges and responsibilities. This code of conduct is referred to as bushido (Military Knight Way / way of the warrior). The Knights of Europe had a similar code of conduct depicting the qualities of the ideal knight as having the spirit and mannerisms of a gallant, distinguished gentleman. This code of conduct is commonly referred to as chivalry.

Mere mention of a code of conduct conjures up visions of the perfect hero – individuals who should be held in highest esteem and whom all should aspire to emulate. Yet history has revealed that there were both notably honorable as well as notoriously despicable members of these warrior classes. Two questions then arise. First, does a notably honorable man really need a code of conduct? Second, can a code of conduct make a notoriously despicable man honorable? The answer to both questions lies in understanding that the external expression of any code of conduct, whether corporate (group) or personal (individual), is filtered through ones personal internal code of ethics and governed by the foundation upon which that personal internal code of ethics is established.

It is generally assumed that any corporate code of ethics, whether written or unwritten, has at its core, the intent to guide it’s adherents to embrace virtue, shun vice and exhibit the highest expression of moral integrity. However, this assumption has been strenuously argued sighting various historical movements whose notorious leaders caused and/or condoned their follower’s display of despicable conduct. Therefore, placing implicit faith in the implied integrity of a corporate code of conduct can prove to be a grievous error without filtering its precepts through a personal code of ethics founded upon a rock-solid foundation that is steeped in virtue.

Every individual, whether knowingly or unknowingly, implements a personal code of ethics. One’s personal internal code of ethics is derived from the values (comprised of virtues and/or vices) they hold to be most important. Virtues are the positive components of which one’s personal code of ethics is comprised. Virtues are of the highest quality – depicting moral excellence. Vices are the negative components of which one’s code of ethics is comprised. Vices are of the lowest quality – depicting moral depravity. To the degree that one aspires to embrace the qualities of those virtues or vices defines their moral bent and thus the external expression of their code of ethics.

Scripture cautions us that “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15). Scripture further cautions us that the heart of man is “… deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). These cautions should cause one to consider that if the foundation of ones internal code of ethics is comprised of ones perceived intelligence and integrity then it is also compromised by ones lack of intelligence and integrity. To suppose that we possess superior intelligence and integrity in all that pertains to being the perfect example of chivalry and that we naturally exude the spiritual attributes of nobility (freedom from anything petty, mean, or dubious in conduct and character) and righteousness (guiltlessness or blamelessness), would imply that our ego has blinded us to reality. This would amount to irrefutable proof that pride and self-exaltation has replaced any hope of true chivalry. Furthermore, if ones inherent moral bent is essentially deceitful and wicked, then ones internal code of ethics is doomed to fall short of the essence of true chivalry.

So, how do we answer the question “can a code of conduct make a notoriously despicable man honorable”? In view of the Proverbs 12:15 caution that “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise”, and considering the natural inclination of the heart toward deceitfulness and wickedness, ones natural inclination would be to reject any instruction opposing their moral bent rendering them virtually un-teachable. If one has absolutely no inclination to be truly honorable, logic would dictate there would be no way that a man-made code of conduct could perform a miraculous change in their heart.

Next, how do we answer the question “does a notably honorable man really need a code of conduct”? It would seem that in view of the Jeremiah 17:9 caution that the heart of man is inherently “… deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”, that there is no such thing as a truly honorable man. So, the likelihood that a man-made code of conduct could cause a deceitful, desperately wicked man to change the natural inclination of their heart seems virtually impossible. It would seem then that we must aspire to a higher code of ethics than one devised by man, but where can we turn?

The Apostle Paul very clearly points us toward that higher code of ethics. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The Apostle Peter confirms that Scripture is not devised by man “… knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20, 21)

Still a problem remains – “…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) Jesus’ words are even more direct “He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” (John 8:47)

So why does this problem exist – It all began in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2). God endowed Adam with the authority to act as His vice-regent and have close personal relationship (both physical and spiritual) with Him. In his official capacity as God’s representative, Adam was given instruction regarding his privileges and responsibilities and cautioned that failure to comply with specified responsibilities would be construed as disobedience (the Biblical equivalent of sin) and would result in the loss of specified privileges including the close personal relationship. Unfortunately, Adam as the first representative of the human race, is also considered the corporate (Oh-oh, there’s that troublesome word again) head of the human race. To make a long story short, Adam was enticed into disobeying God’s instructions and as mankind’s corporate head, we as members of the human race are conceived in Adam’s disobedience (fallen state) and thereby share estrangement from close personal relationship with God. The Apostle Paul stated this very succinctly, “Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death (physical and spiritual) through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (being conceived in Adams disobedience) (Romans 5:12)

Fortunately, God has provided a solution to the problem – Just “… as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) Or to explain in more detail, “…through one man’s (Adam’s) offense judgment came to all men (“all men” united in Adam), resulting in condemnation (guilt), even so through one Man’s (Jesus’) righteous act the free gift (salvation / reconciliation to God) came to all men (“all men” united in Jesus), resulting in justification of life” (the justification that results in spiritual life instead of spiritual death). (Romans 5:18). Simply put “… God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

So, the final question is DO YOU BELIEVE? Do you believe that God loves you so much that He does not want you to remain under the condemnation inherited through our disobedient corporate head, Adam? Do you believe that God wants us to transfer our allegiance to the obedient corporate head, Jesus? If you believe this, you are no longer like “…the natural man [who] does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) Instead you are becoming like “He who is of God [and] hears God’s words…” and you no longer “…do not hear, because you are not of God.” (John 8:47) You need to know “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9,10) Then, you can aspire to a higher code of ethics than one devised by man. You can turn to God’s Code of Ethics, the Word of God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

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