Righteousness—the Person, the Action

1 John 3:7 (KJV) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

It is to be deceived to believe that those who commit unrighteousness are righteous.

I was almost avoiding this passage. Somehow, I’m affected by books and messages discouraging a call to holiness and righteousness. Those who do are seen as legalistic, or 1 John 3.17 - Righteousness - The Person, the Actionpeople who don’t understand God’s love and grace. They are seen as judgmental, condemnatory, and they preach salvation by works.

I know those labels aren’t true with me. I understand that we’re saved by grace through faithliving faith that is. I understand God’s unconditional love and abundant grace. I caught myself doing something I ought not to: avoiding certain passages. That was wrong.

So, I settled. How can I escape this divine billboard projected so emphatically right before me—repeatedly, in different ways, just from one book alone? Here’s a sampling of what I mean:

1 John 2:1,5-6,29 (KJV) 1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

1 John 3:3,10,24 (KJV) 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

1 John 5:3 (KJV) 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

There’s a lot more where they came from.

If God’s Word doesn’t withdraw from urging us to life of love, obedience, holiness, purity, righteousness; it’s only right we also don’t.

‘nough said.

 

 

 

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Who’s Really Affected?

Job 35:6   (KJV)   If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?

Job 35.6 - Who Really BenefitsNo amount of sin and rebellion can topple God from His throne. God is God; He rules; He will reign forever and forever.

Nothing we do can alter God for Who He is. He’s God, and He will always be God—omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable, eternal, sovereign, holy, righteous, just, merciful, gracious, loving, and so much more. He is all those, and more—now, and forever more.

Yes, because of His love for us, He’s grieved when we sin. He’s jealous for us because of His love. He always wants the best for us, and He doesn’t like the idea of us allowing the enemy to rob us of our best. We don’t increase God or diminish His Being when we sin or do good. We obey Him because we as true believers understand: that’s the proper response to Who He is. We honor Him because He is honorable, we worship Him because He’s the greatest Being there is. We know that His commands aren’t burdensome—He’s not giving us a hard time; they’re for our best. Let me quote the context of the passage above: “If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man” (Job 35:6-8 KJV).

So yes, doing bad and doing good, ultimately, is doing ourselves bad or good. We choose good.

God’s Plans, Our Plans

Matthew 1:20   (KJV)   20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

We have plans. The more important our decisions are, the more we think of them. We spend more time trying to see if our decisions are the right ones. And that’s good. God has wisely given us brains for us to use. But in our planning, we also have God’s plans to matthew-1-20-gods-plans-our-plansconsider—first and foremost. We know it’s true; we’re convinced it’s true: God’s plans are much better than our plans. But isn’t it interesting how there are times when people get a little shaken when He does things differently?

The thing here is, we have our comfort zones, and we don’t want our quiet, safe spaces to be shaken. People get rattled when this happens. And we’re just referring to situations when something else happens instead of what we expect. What if we add cases wherein what happens is beyond our control? Oh boy, the more people tend to get frantically alarmed. Do we ever consider the possibility that when impossible situations come, God may be setting us up for a blessing so especial, so life-changing, even earth-shaking, that when we finally find out about it, our mouths drop in awe? I do.

That’s how God often operates. He’s predictable in many ways, that’s why we can depend on Him. He has clearly revealed so many things in His Word, that’s why we believe what we believe and we behave the way we do. He does what He says He would do, that’s why we depend on Him. But then there are those “secret things” that belong to Him alone, and then there are those things that He reveals to us progressively. Joseph knew that a Messiah would be born, but He didn’t know that was it. Things went fast for Joseph, but the seeming drawback became perhaps the greatest miracle He’s ever experienced in His life.

We plan to the best of our knowledge and ability so that our plans are aligned to God’s plans. If God’s plans are different, we gladly surrender our plans to His. If necessary, God reveals His plans to us—even if they require miracles to do it. When He does, we see how life’s seeming “disturbances” are actually life-changing miracles and blessings. That’s how Christmas started; that’s what Christmas is: a series of wonderful miracles.

Intentions and Actions

2 Corinthians 8:11   (KJV)   11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.

There ought to be completion of intentions. People’s desire to do something good, helping provide other people’s needs, being a blessing in any and every way – all these ought to be coupled with corresponding actions. Good intention is better than  bad intention or no intention. Having actions but with bad intentions is a mess. Good intentions, plus good actions – that’s more like  it.

Good intentions are good but they’re not enough. They’re a good start, but it has to move forward. Good intentions won’t accomplish anything. Dreams have been wasted because they never took steps beyond willingness. How many lives would have been better, how many more beautiful songs would have been written; how many more sicknesses would have been cured; how many wars would have been avoided; how many families would have been thriving; how many countries would be at peace; how many more souls would have been saved if intentions first and foremost were sincere, and if those intentions were followed by the necessary steps to make those intentions a reality?

Dear God, we praise You for working in us both to will and do those things that please You. Help us to work out those godly promptings that we may serve You, Your kingdom, Your people, and Your creation more efficiently, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Death of the Innocent

Luke 23:41  (KJV)   41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

Unlike the traditional religious beliefs, there was really no bad thief and good thief; both of them were thieves and they both started off insulting Jesus. Unlike many who are caught in a crime, they didn’t claim innocence. One of the two thieves crucified with Jesus eventually humbly admitted that they were guilty and thus justly deserving of the crucifixion they were suffering. He also pointed out that unlike them, Jesus was completely innocent. Jesus died for no crime He personally committed. But die for crime, He did. His condemnation, suffering, and death were substitutionary. He died for the sins of the world. 

Thief or not, we’re all guilty of sin. And if we will be humble enough, we ought to admit our guilt and how deserving we are of our sins’ consequences or punishment. Obviously, there is a natural desire to get away with our wrongdoings. There are many of us who would desire to, plan to, and commit sin and not think about the consequences. Worse still, when dealt with the natural result of our foolishness, we ask, “Why me?” But there are those of us who awake to this humbling reality. Thank God because we’re not left without an answer to the dilemma. There is Jesus. He didn’t deserve to die but He willingly did for the very help we need. We need forgiveness from sin. We need salvation. That’s why He came; that’s why He died. He is the Savior.

Dear God our Savior, thank You for Your loving Provision and sacrifice. May we all be honest about our true condition and need. May we all find the wisdom of fully depending on the only One Who gave His perfect life for our salvation. In Jesus’ Name, amen.