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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Believers’ Natural Fruits

Ephesians 5:9   (KJV)   9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

Ephesians 5.9 - Believers' Natural FruitsGod’s precious Holy Spirit living in us produces only good things—praise God for that. He efficiently bears in us what’s good, what’s right, and what’s true.

We willingly and humbly yield ourselves to the gentle leading and inner work of the Holy Spirit. Left to ourselves, we still have a strong tendency to listen to the destructive influence of our old way of living. But our loving God has lavishly given us wisdom; we quickly identify and resist what’s evil, wrong, and false. More so, we understand that ungodliness isn’t something to accommodate and excuse; it’s something to completely reject. Our sincere love for God and our proper understanding of God’s love don’t deny His anger—not only for disobedience but also for the disobedient: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6).

We love God; He loves us infinitely more. We please the One we love, and we demonstrably do this by being Christ-like. This isn’t a laborious something we force ourselves to. We honestly enjoy living in unquestionable integrity and all-out faithfulness—in willing obedience to the Lord’s instructions. We’ve heard before: “Our lives are God’s gifts to us; what we do with our lives are our gifts to God.” Reality is: there’s nothing we can give God that He didn’t give us. Still, He kindly gives us the uplifting pleasure of choosing to thank Him by the way we live out this precious gift of life—both the physical and the eternal. It’s a deep joy yielding to the precious Holy Spirit—radiating goodness, righteousness, and truth. What an honor and privilege.

New Hearts

Matthew 15:18   (KJV)   18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

Matters of the heart matters more than the physical. They affect us in more significant and more crucial ways.

The words we honestly speak spring from deep within us. Depending on the condition of our hearts, the kinds of words coming out reflect them. The Bible tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Matthew 15.18 - New HeartsThat’s why although we hear it often, it’s not always wise to say “Just listen to your heart,” or “Just follow your heart.” Unregenerate hearts from unsaved world often come up with very wrong advice.

We praise God for changing our hearts. Instead of hearts of stone—hard hearts unwilling to listen to God’s Word and God’s Spirit, He gave us hearts of flesh—soft hearts—longingly, lovingly hungering, expectant of, and pursuing Him, His Kingdom, His Word, and His will. We’re more concerned about these hearts of ours and the issues flowing from them compared to the physical stuff we stuff our physical bodies with.

Don’t get me wrong; we don’t deny the importance of our physical bodies and the honor our Lord Jesus has bestowed on them. We are the temples of the precious Holy Spirit. We recognize and realize the importance of good diet and exercise. Over-eating is still something to avoid, although I admit, I need more discipline in that. Gluttony may be a more convicting term than over-eating.

We can desecrate this temple. But what defiles this temple are not the kinds of food we eat but the kinds of words coming out of our lips; the kinds of thoughts we think with our brains, and the kinds of actions we engage in with our bodies. Immorality—these kinds of acts of our bodies defile us. But all these ultimately spring from deep within us. We take care of  our hearts; everything else flows from there. Our hearts belong to Him; that’s the big difference.

God’s Surprising Ways

Habakkuk 1:5   (KJV)   5 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

Our God is a sovereign God. He is a creative God. He’s not bound to anything or anyone, not even to the ways He’s done things in the past. In fact, the Lord will do something new Habakkuk 1.5 - God's Surprising Waysin our nations, something wonderful and marvelous. It will be so amazing that it will be so hard to believe if we are told about it now.

Godlessness pervades our nations. We find it in every corner and facet of society. Lies, deception, and fake news are everywhere. But our just and loving God don’t just sit idly by. He won’t allow the righteous to be caught in insidious plots and deadly traps of the enemy.

The wicked trusts in their own devices; they glory in their ability to deceive; they don’t realize that God watches over His people. They march boldy brandishing their banner of evil while gleefully setting up the righteous for a fall, not realizing that they’ll be caught in their own snares. The harm they plan for God’s people will boomerang to them.

God, our heavenly Father Who created this big, vast, inscrutable universe surprises His enemies. They can’t predict how He does things. We as His people, though surrounded by evil, live in peace. Our confidence is in the LORD. We’ve tasted and seen that the LORD is good. He never leaves us defenseless. We may not be sure as to the ways He delivers us, but we’re sure He always delivers us.

Even though lawlessness may exponentially increase, even though our economy may suddenly collapse, even though our freedom may be greatly threatened, even though God’s people are constantly harassed, we will neither fear nor be dismayed. We will find our joy and our peace in the God of our provision and protection. He is our strength; He establishes our steps. After all is said and done, everyone will recognize: God is God. He continually governs in the affairs of man. He rules over all nations. The lives of kings and queens, presidents and rulers are in His hands. Every knee will bow, and every eye will see: He is Lord. So yes; we’re at peace—always ready to be amazed by our Father’s new yet always astonishing interventions.

Strongly Deluded

2 Thessalonians 2:11   (KJV)   11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

For God to send strong delusion for people to believe lies sounds very “unGodlike.” But the statement isn’t a point blank no-context declaration.  The people God causes to be greatly deceived are those who refuse to love the truth.  They refuse the truth that saves.  2 Thessalonians 2.11 - Strongly DeludedWe may ask, why doesn’t God send them stronger convincing proofs and truths?  He already has, and He knows no greater revelation will convince them otherwise.

As sad as it may be, there are people we lovingly and sincerely pray for, but they’re just implacably set in their ways.  No amount of dialogue, conversations, love, reason, or evidence will make them change their minds.  They pursue their godless ways, influence others to doing the same, and even invent new ways to do evil.  In God’s patience, wisdom, justice, and gentleness, He lets them be, and turns them over to reprobate minds.

We won’t give up praying for everyone, no matter how hopeless, hardheaded, and hardhearted they may seem.  We don’t know if they’re unyielding; only God does.  We’ve often been surprised by God’s Spirit.  We’ve witnessed the most hardened criminals and even the most “hell-bent” terrorists come to their senses, humble themselves before God, and bow their knees to Him in full trust and surrender.  Most of us probably didn’t believe the first time we heard the Gospel.  We can’t really count the number of times Jesus through His Spirit knocked on the doors of our hearts before we finally opened up and invited Him to reside in us.

Praise God, He didn’t give up on us. Praise God, people didn’t stop praying for us.  We may have been considered cold, hardheaded, hardhearted, and inconvincible as well, but the “Hound of Heaven,” with His stubborn love, didn’t let go of us.  But here we are now—fruits of God’s love, patience, grace, and mercy, enjoying the blessings of those who met Him heart to heart, Spirit to spirit,” and soon, face to face.

Of Truth and Silence

acts-23-22-of-truth-and-silence

Acts 23:22   (KJV)   22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.

Truth is important; truth will prevail, but truth need not always be told and need not always be known. Truth is safe in the possession of the good; it may not be as safe at the hands of evil people. To be clear: contrary to what others believe, I believe that hiding truth isn’t equivalent to lying. Even God, in His perfect wisdom finds it appropriate to keep secrets, even from us—His very own children. We need to be very careful in the way we handle the truth. True, not everyone can receive it well, not everyone uses it well.

 

God Bless the Nations

Jeremiah 4:2   (KJV)   2 And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.

This is our declaratiJeremiah 4.2 - God Bless the Nationson: God is God; God is good; He is real, and He exists. A cliché to some, but the message is immensely important. We don’t need a God Who lies. A lying God will lead us to utter confusion. We don’t need a God Who’s unfair. Better not have one than live in a world where God is the reason why the guilty is rewarded and the innocent is punished. Sure, corruption is found in the world’s justice system, but it’s the justice of God that gives us hope, confidence, and assurance that a time is coming when justice will rise from the prison of conspiracies, cover-ups, and false accusations. We don’t need an unrighteous God. How can our steps be established if we don’t know that the One we depend on won’t always do right?

We raise His banner; it’s the banner everyone can look to and find hope. Not everyone realizes that. If they do, most of them would come running to Him. God has given us so many proofs of Himself: His reality, His power, His love. It’s obvious: God’s plans, intents, and acts towards mankind are always for the best. For us, it makes sense that we not only gravitate towards Him; we passionately throw ourselves to His strong loving arms.

This is the truth sadly missed by so many; this is the truth we tell. It’s a pure truth, a good truth. We won’t convince all—as much as we want to—as much as God wants everyone to be saved.  Oh, if only people would open their hearts and welcome our loving Father; if only they would receive and experience His salvation and freedom. To this incomparably important end, we present and represent our Father. We too live truthfully, fairly, righteously. There is so much blessedness in this, blessedness offered to and sufficient for all nations, for the entire creation.