How to Know Right From Wrong


I believe that the often heard expression, ‘knowing right from wrong’ is an incorrect manner of speech, a misnomer.  The only way to know the right things to do is to have been taught and shown the right way, not the wrong way.  In today’s society, many children and youth cannot know or practice what is right when they have mostly known wrong behavior or they have not been taught or trained in correct behavior.  Adults can be included, too because many adults are self-serving, dishonest, greedy and motivated by their own interests, and this cuts through all socio-economic levels.

But how can youngsters and youth who live in homes with profanity, disrespect for people and property, bad manners, alcoholism, drugs, violence, sexual promiscuity, or other disorders and dysfunctions, etc. really be expected not to behave otherwise in society, if that is all they’ve known?  Stealing, bullying, rudeness, deviant behavior, and violence seems to be in their nature.  In the news I read about a parent and young adult son arrested for fighting and ganging up on some unfortunate soul for what they perceived to be a slight offense against them.  I also read about a father-son team caught in a drug bust, doing drugs and peddling drugs together.

When I was doing  research for my master’s thesis about the implications for curriculum design based on early prosocial development, I read studies made on the backgrounds of incarcerated felons.  One outstanding common factor in their lives was that they frequently grew up in home environments which did not foster positive self esteem or support their prosocial development.  They did not learn about respect and responsibility; they did not learn about the virtues of honesty and common courtesy; they had no manners and acquired no social graces.

If children from a young age through the age of accountability are not given proper training in character development and social skills training, their behavior will be reflected in their youth and adult life.  Society will either benefit from their proper upbringing or could be burdened by the costs for their rehabilitation and incarceration.


Proverbs 22:6 says,

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  

This verse says a lot about training children in righteous living according to God’s standards.  Well mannered and respectful children who have received training from their parents, as well as other good role models, including Sunday School teachers during their formative years of development, are likely to be righteous adults who can make a contribution to society.  I like the King James Version of this verse because it uses the word, ‘Train’.

The New International Version says,

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” 

Giving children ‘a good start’ surely sounds like good advice and is commendable, but it is nebulous.  How do you give a child a ‘good start’?  A child born into affluence may have a head start in his educational career and the means to reach his aspirations to succeed in the corporate world.  If this is the right way and includes learning honesty and kindness to others and good work ethics, that would be great!  But what exactly what does “Start children off on the way they should go” mean?  And “on the way” to WHERE?

So the words “Train up a child in the way he should go” is much more SPECIFIC which involves not only ‘teaching’ with words,  but also TRAINING by teaching AND demonstration, WITH repetition in correct behavior by good role models.  The verse in Proverbs 22:6 is about training ‘in the way’ which is God’s Way as Jesus taught and demonstrated for us by providing many Biblical examples and by the way Jesus Himself lived His life.  Jesus said:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. . .”   (John 14:6)

Jesus is our example, our role model, even as Christian parents are the role models for their children.  God’s Way is the right way, the only way and by His Biblical standards which are the guidelines for us to live by.  True believers in Christ do not compromise or follow the  standards of the world when they are contrary to God’s Word.  Man’s way or the world’s way of thinking is to “do what is right in one’s own eyes”.  (Judges 17:6; 21:25)

BUT the Bible way is to love God and love His Word and obey it; it is to love good and to hate evil, to love what God loves and hate what He hates.  To know right, one must be taught and shown the right way of doing things.  We do not “know right from wrong”, but we know what is wrong from knowing what is right.  This is what the problem is for many in the world today– they don’t know what is right.  Right or wrong is all the same to them and many behave as though they do not “know right from wrong”.  Evil has become good and what is good is now evil (Isa 5:20).  The world needs Jesus to show them THE WAY.  Without Jesus, multitudes will continue the broad way that leads to destruction:

 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.  (Mt 7:13-14)

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.  (Proverbs 14:12)

Related Reading:

These posts are from my eBook, Sounding the Shofar- Exhortations for the End Times.  CHAPTER 2, PLEASING GOD- LOVE GOD, LOVE HIS WORD AND OBEY HIM

About Shofar/Liz

I have a Christian blogsite-'God's Enduring Love' at with 'Words of Encouragement from the Bible and Liz's Journal'. Also, an art blogsite-'Art with Aloha' at 'A Journal About Art and Life. I use acrylic and oil paints, graphite pencils and pen and ink.

Posted on April 20, 2013, in Sounding the Shofar eBook and Related Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The word for “train up,” here is “chanok,” which is the same root used in the word Chanukah, meaning, “dedication.” The Arabic word, from which this may be derived from, means, “to touch the palate,” and referred to the practice of rubbing an infants mouth with a date paste to get it to suck. It can also refer to the placing of a bit in the mouth of a horse or donkey to lead it. There is an ancient practice, which still continues among some Orthodox Jews, to place candies on the first prayer book or religious book a child learns from, so the idea of the sweetness of learning God’s word is etched in his mind. In times past, honey was poured on the writing slate, and the child would lick it.

    • That is SO interesting! Thank you for sharing these customs that built positive associations with learning God’s Word. Psalm 19:7-10 tell how precious and holy God’s Word is, the delights and rewards of keeping His Word, that it is “sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

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