Ethics and Morality, Virtues

Morality is "ethical wisdom; the quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct; a system of ideas of right and wrong conduct; virtuous conduct." Moral means "of or pertaining to character or disposition, considered as good or bad, virtuous or vicious, of or pertaining to the distinction between right or wrong, good or evil, in relation to the actions, volitions or character of responsible being; ethical; teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior; virtuous; arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong."

Ethics is "a system of moral principles, the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc., or of an individual; the branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions."

Ethics is applied morality

Morality is an absolute principle (God is moral) and an abstract principle, a law of being and of doing, a virtue, a degree and an initiation. As a law of doing, morality serves as your moral compass, which is the degree to which you put your honor, loyalty and integrity into action as your personal code of ethics. Morality is a soul virtue, and you are initiated on your morals, morality and standard of ethics daily.

The code of ethics that we practice on the Via Christa is found on every page of this website; it is contained in all the laws given, discovered and developed for the care and maintenance of our souls, our relationship with the planet, other life forms, humanity and with God. Ethics is how you apply your morality.

The moral imperative is the personal compulsion to action, arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong, which varies from soul to soul. Imperative means "having the power or authority to command or control," and in this sense, to command or to control the self.

Edna Lister's Sermons and Lectures on Ethics and Morality
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Edna Lister on Ethics and Morality

The keynote of the Christ standard of morality and ethics is obedience to the will of God by the surrender and denial of self rulership as we submit to every ordinance of ethical and moral conformance we have formulated to guide our family, social and business affairs. ~ Edna Lister, The Christ Standard, February 17, 1935.

Moral disorders produce sordidness and physical ugliness. ~ Edna Lister, The Second Degree, March 23, 1935.

Moral evil is falsehood in actions. Injustice is the death of moral being. ~ Edna Lister, The Third Degree, March 30, 1935.

The faculty of moral will is a power, latent in every person. ~ Edna Lister, The Twelfth Degree, June 15, 1935.

God is immanent in this universe as moral law, whose inherent sanctity impresses itself on the many, and in man supremely. ~ Edna Lister, The Theory of Knowing, October 21, 1935.

You improve morally by being honest with self and others, by remembering that right is right and wrong is wrong, by helping others — the more you have, the more you know, the more strictly you will be judged — by being charitable (charity begins at home), by avoiding temptation, and by living now, not in the past or the future. ~ Edna Lister, How to Improve in Every Way, January 4, 1936.

The moral laws are the necessary relations that flow from the nature of things, and they are not created by, but have existed eternally in God. God is the principle of morality. ~ Edna Lister, Nine Lesser Mysteries of God, February 27, 1937.

You may not have anything to do with moral degenerates. ~ Edna Lister, June 9, 1939.

Constructive fear and common sense go hand in hand as companions in gaining wisdom from every new experience. Just to be afraid of new experience is neither common sense nor constructive fear. It is just fear. To wait for the traffic lights to change could result from a fear of being hit, but it would be a good, constructive fear, for it saves lives. To obey a law for fear of getting caught is a constructive fear and leads to the habit of obeying laws. At the end of fear is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom comes from learning that something is wrong to do or that it will not work. That is how you instill morals into children's minds. ~ Edna Lister, Life in a Nutshell, "The Road to Wisdom," 1942.

The ethics and all moral laws of civilization are based on truth. ~ Edna Lister, May 26, 1947.

Regularity in all laws, physical plus moral, keeps one and builds one beyond one's imagination. ~ Edna Lister, January 8, 1948.

The first misstep softens morale and the moral stance, making the second mistake easier. Weakened moral fiber inevitably leads to the point where all that remains are selfish desires, until you can't say yes or no. You can't even think a name without starting the law of action and reaction into operation. Like a boomerang, whatever you aim at another returns to hit you. ~ Edna Lister, The First Days, June 17, 1951.

Common sense, o'ershadowed by dignity and good taste, equals morality. ~ Edna Lister, Your Atomic Body, June 22, 1954.

In the Master Degree you learn honor and polish ethics and morals. ~ Edna Lister, The Pioneering Mystic, May 5, 1959.

Morality is fulfilling your responsibility for release of Power. Morality deals with how you adjust to the laws of God and of man. Under morality, you accept law socially, and through tests and temptations learn how to agree with God, adjust to man and release Power. ~ Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, October 20, 1959.

While you practice moderation in your relationships to all on the outside, you live in absolute morality in everything that means God's honor. However, you cannot be moderate about the principles that cover morality. ~ Edna Lister, October 12, 1961.

Religion deals with laws governing morality. A child becomes moral under discipline of the self and training. Religion teaches every child morality. ~ Edna Lister, The Seven-Branched Candle Stand, October 24, 1961.

Some say there is no morality now, yet God is moral. We must return to perfect morals. ~ Edna Lister, June 15, 1967.

Moral values become possessions of the soul by your exercise of three basic judgments — Self-judgment (moral choice), social-judgment (ethical choice) and God-judgment (religious choice). ~ Edna Lister, Omnipresence as Time-Space Relationships, October 17, 1967.

Morality means to live by honor toward man and God, loyalty to God, and by the integrity of your relationship with God. You cannot set honor aside. ~ Edna Lister, The Great Modern Problem, November 12, 1967.

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A Christed Code of Ethics

This Edna Lister sermon outline, As the World Sees Me, is dated June 22, 1958, Cleveland, Ohio.

First, you must accept your inheritance from above. Second, you must have a personal plan of life and a code of ethics. Finally, you must put this in action. Religion is our code of ethics, a plan for living together in perfect peace. Religion expresses our soul's desires.

We can interpret the Law of Moses as a horizontal code of law because it follows principle, reflecting the masculine aspect of God as Wisdom expressing throughout the breadth of creation. Moses taught a rigid code for outer action, which man may not modify or change to suit individual tastes. He spoke of God as a Father, a rigid disciplinarian. He taught symbolically, but the interpretation later became rigid.

Jesus lived and taught in the dimension of height and gave us and a vertical code of law for the inner world, couched in many symbols. He taught the law as it follows God as a personality, kind, loving, beneficent and forgiving. He opened the vibration of love, the feminine aspect of God as Mother, for which they accused him of blasphemy and of being weak.

Jesus modified truth to simple symbols like the grain of the field, birds, trees and flowers. One who lives by these simple laws has a mobile, joyous expression. Interpretation of law solely according to principle sets the face in rigid lines. It reveals inflexibility and brings the danger of using force of self-will. Yet, you may not set aside the rigidity of Mosaic Law because you cannot reach the heights or show the world a loving face without the most rigid self-discipline as your basis for obedience. These laws form the path back to God and it takes holding not to slip backward.

After practicing rigid self-discipline, you must ascend to the heights of glory and let your intimate Father pour love through you from the vertical heights. You do not force others to do anything, but encourage and entice them to self-discipline. As you use self-discipline, God's Power uses you.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but; have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love; these three; but the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Corinthians 13.

To analyze 1 Corinthians 13, we use "love" instead of "charity." Charity is "seeing good in all things," seeing God everywhere, which we can do only through love. The text lists nine aspects of love that encompass our Christed code of ethics. We use three ideas in climbing to the dimension of height, which encompasses the fourth and fifth dimensions. First, we must accept our inheritance from above. Second, we must have a definite personal plan of life, a code of ethics. Third, we must act to discipline the self. No two people can live under the same code; each must work out his or her personal code of acceptance, ethics and action.

The text says our inheritance includes the gift of prophecy, understanding all mysteries, all knowledge and all faith. To prophesy is to be able to use your physical senses as inner faculties to detect something coming. You can pray and set aside destruction, and this is divine protection.

To "understand all mysteries" means to stand under the Light that shines in every dark place. If you stand under the Light, confident and trusting, you will unfold all mysteries. "I stand under Light, day and night."

"All knowledge" is an ever-ready answer that comes from observation, the ability to stand and apply logic, reason, discretion, discrimination and discernment in your life. This is how you tune in divine Mind to get the answer you need. You cannot find tomorrow's answer in yesterday's record. You receive today's answer when you pray for the right answer at the right time and declare, "This is good" to all that comes. All knowledge is knowing how to do the right thing.

"All faith" is immovable, unconquerable and cannot fail. Nothing is impossible to "all faith." The secret is to stand under the Light to unfold the mysteries.

A plan is a way of life, a keynote of life. Two factors are essential, a vivid imagination and a burning desire. Under the laws Jesus taught, we learn that we must base our plan on love.

Jesus taught a code of being in the Sermon on the Mount. Beatitudes are attitudes of being but no code is any good unless you act on it. You must "be at it." This is the hallmark of ascension and reveals the dimension of height. The text contains seven steps of love-in-action:

"Love suffers long" means love forgives seventy times seven. To "suffer" means to "let." Longsuffering means forgiving until you forget the offense; you cannot forgive until you forget.

"Love does not envy" means you just detour around obstacles to reach the goal. Most people regard detours as delays but detours can be the "way of the Lord." Delays sometimes save lives. Ask for the other fellow what you want, and rejoice when his miracle arrives before yours.

"Love does not parade itself" means do not talk about yourself or blow your own horn. If you are always busy boasting, you leave others with nothing good to say about you.

"Love is not puffed up" means love has no pride of self. Puffed up arrogance fills all available space and leaves no room for anything good.

"Love does not behave rudely" means to avoid all appearance of evil. Should you slip, hang a veil of Light from the Source to wipe it from the other fellow's memory.

"Love does not seek" means do not be easily provoked, but stand in poise. Do not use words harshly. This covers "pushiness."

"Love thinks no evil" is knowing that God is all good and is everywhere evenly present and available. Love, the code for the high dimension, always wins. As you apply the laws of love for self-discipline, you see God face to Face, and His glory blinds you to the world. If you stand under the Light just once, joy and happiness will show.

As you accept, let your inheritance pour through as love to nourish and sustain, to keep you alive and alert to remember your plan. Use the right words and let vivid imagination hold the vision of your plan's pattern to point the way to the goal as you act. Let the love of God pour through as you desire to ascend into the high dimension of glory. The horizontal world may not follow you to the heights now, but it will someday. The River of Life flows to God as well as from Him. Even those who hate you are going; they may not like it but they are going. When you look brilliant and shining, the world will see you as you really are.

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New Testament on Ethics and Morality

A law of intention: Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:28.

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. ~ Matthew 5:29.

Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. ~ Matthew 5:32. [You are adulterating vows made to God.]

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication [sexual immorality]: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.

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Old Testament on Ethics and Morality

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. ~ Exodus 20:1-17.

Incest is forbidden. ~ Leviticus 18:6-18.

Thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife. ~ Leviticus 18:20.

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (for all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled). ~ Leviticus 18:22-27.

Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy. Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God. ~ Leviticus 19:2-4.

Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning. Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord. Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. Ye shall keep my statutes. Leviticus 19:11-19.

You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying. ~ Leviticus 19:26.

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord. ~ Leviticus 19:28.

Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. ~ Leviticus 19:31.

Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt. Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord. ~ Leviticus 19:35-37.

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Ethics and Morality in Other Sacred Writings

Insight on dying young: He pleased God, and was beloved of him, so that he was translated; speedily he was taken away, lest wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul. For the glamor of immorality obscures things that are honest; and the wandering of selfish desires undermines the simple mind. He, being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time: For his soul pleased the Lord: therefore hastened He to take him away. ~ Wisdom of Solomon 4:10-14.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 –1971
The original Pioneering Mystic
minister, teacher, and author

Edna Lister

Etymology of moral: Latin moralis, from Latin mos, "wont, humor, manner, custom."

Etymology of ethics: Latin ethicus, from Greek ethikós, "study of morals."

Morality is an absolute principle.

Morality is an abstract principle.

Morality is a law of being.

Morality is a law of doing.

Morality is a soul virtue.

We are often initiated on our morals and morality.

Morality is a Via Christa Degree.


Moral excellence is concerned with pleasures and pains; it is on account of the pleasure that we do bad things, and on account of the pain that we abstain from noble ones. Hence we ought to have been brought up in a particular way from our very youth, as Plato says, so as both to delight in and to be pained by the things that we ought; for this is the right education. ~ Aristotle, Nicomachaen Ethics


Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics, Book 2, part 1. W.D. Ross, translator. New York: Random House, 1941.

The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, editor. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981.

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See Character

See Conscience

See Integrity

See Righteousness

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