God’s Righteousness

anonymous religious hasidim jews during pray near western wall
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I was told once that Christians can be divided into three groups:  Modern-day Pharisees, Christian Eeyores, and lastly, the Grace Community.  And I was told that I was the modern-day Pharisee type.  A lot of you were as well.  You know, the really annoying, judgmental, legalistic type?

 

But, c’mon, unless you used to be an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, you were nothing like a Pharisee. Neither was I.

 

The Pharisees were hard-core religious zealots who devoted every minute of their lives to being righteous; they were sincere and serious. Their zeal was based on the Laws that God spoke to Moses.

 

“For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” Romans 10:2

 

Not according to knowledge?

 

The apostle Paul goes on to explain in Romans 10 that their religious practices were “their own” attempts at righteousness, and had nothing to do with God’s.

 

Yes, God gave the Law to Moses, but He did not give it so that it would lead us to Him.  To a life of faith, of reality.  The Law was given to increase the knowledge of sin and to lead us to despair and to the feet of the Lord God. (Romans 5:20)

 

So, if you desire righteousness and holiness, your efforts at being ‘good’ will not succeed. The Bible is so clear.  Again and again we are told that, to be righteous in God’s eyes, you must have FAITH.  Before Jesus came, one had faith in God and the words He spoke to one’s heart.  After Jesus came, one puts their faith in the death, burial, and resurrection.  It is THAT that spells out the good news, the gospel; it is that that saves a soul from hell.

 

Paul calls the gospel “the word of faith.”  The gospel is “the word of faith” because it has to do with assenting to what God reveals to your heart, it is about saying yes, having faith, and telling God, “yes, I believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.”

 

The Christian life is a life of faith.  “From faith to faith,” as it is written.  We are saved through faith by grace, and then we grow to know Jesus through faith by grace.

 

Faith is the noun form of the verb “to believe.”  Faith is about trusting God.  It’s about        believing Him. You trust Him for salvation and you continue to trust Him every day afterwards.

 

. . . yet with most of us, there was a slight detour into “works.”  For me, it was a 15 year detour.  Although we were not as serious and sincere as the Pharisees, we church addicts were still nonetheless trying to establish our own righteousness based on “law.”  Our lives were guided by rules and principles and standards (not by the Lord.)

 

But God brought me back to Himself.  He asked me to quit church, to give up my religious idols. To surrender my pride to Him. He asked me to stop TRYING to be righteous.

 

It’s great news because anyone can do this; the gospel applies to anyone and everyone!    God’s idea of righteousness is attainable.

 

We don’t have to be modern-day Pharisees to be righteous in God’s eyes.  I’m still blown away by that!  So, thanks for listening. 🙂

 

“Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4

We are nothing like God

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6, 35-36, NASB.)

Do you love your enemies?  God does.  He loves His enemies because He is kind.

“For He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Verse 35)

Is all of your behavior good?  God’s is.  He always does good.  Our attempts at doing good, on the other hand, are called “dead works” (Hebrews 6 and 9.)

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14, NASB)

Are you a merciful person?  Are you full of mercy and compassion and forgiveness toward others?  Well, hallelujah!  God is!  He is the only One who is merciful.  That is good news because we really need His mercy!

The first verses listed above, from Luke 6, are part of the famous “Beatitudes,” a.k.a., The Sermon on the Mount.  In that sermon Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, trying to get them to see that they needed Him as their Messiah, their Saviour.  But the fact is that they had already rejected Him and at that point in the story, they were already planning to destroy Him, to do away with Him.  Why?  Because, according to them, He “worked” on the Sabbath Day.

Yes.  How dare Him, right?  He actually walked through a grain field and allowed His disciples to pick wheat and eat it.  In addition, He healed a man who had a withered hand . . .  on the Sabbath day!!!  Shocking, huh?

The Pharisees were like, “You evil unrighteous person!  You picked wheat!  You healed a man!”  . . . uh?  Okay.

It’s ridiculous to us, of course.  But to them, it was audacious and wrong and against the rules!!!

And yet, all of us, at one time or another were just like the Pharisees.  Blind, rule-following, religious, prideful jerks who rejected Jesus and saw no need for His love, His goodness, His mercy.

But . . . I can take a deep breath, take a sigh of relief and rejoice in His mercy to me.

“He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35)

I can be thankful today and every day, no matter what my circumstances are, because He has saved me by faith through grace.

I just want to praise Him today and remember that I am NOTHNG like Him.  Neither are you, if you’re honest, and that is good news!  Because He is God, and we are not.

 

 

November 1, 2018  10:06 AM