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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Marriage and Faithfulness

Hebrews 13:4   (NLT)   Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

Hebrews 13.4 - Marriage and FaithfulnessHonor and faithfulness are major necessities in marriage. God is involved in marriage; marriage involves morality. God honors marriage, He is an uncompromising judge Who judges the immoral spouse.

Marriage is honorable and sacred and it’s always wrong to defile it, betray it, destroy it. Faithfulness in marriage is life-long. It’s not only in the earliest days of marriage when our passions are soaring high, but it’s even when we’ve gotten on each other’s nerves.

God is holy; He will never stop being one. He will never compromise this even for the children He loves. We don’t try to twist His arm; we can’t. We don’t try to bend His laws; it won’t. God’s holiness is established; His design for marriage is purity, His call to spouses is faithfulness. Those are “set in stone;” rather, those are set in eternity.

New Clothes for New Life

Ephesians 4:24   (KJV)   24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

We are world-changers; that’s a great honor. We influence and change our society because we’ve been changed—from the inside out; we’re a new creation, new man, new nature, new heart. All glory to God; that inner change is all Him. That’s the light we Ephesians 4.24 - New Clothes for New Lifeshine, this new nature created to be like God, particularly His righteousness, holiness, purity. It may be hard for some to believe, but this is us: living godly and pure lives is our nature.

Everyone is invited to share this awesome newness; most don’t respond.  As believers, we enjoy it tremendously. It’s no longer a joy for this new nature to engage in dishonesty, immorality, and corruption. There are not a lot of honors as great as representing and displaying our Father’s nature. Misrepresenting Him hurts us. Temptations abound; they possess powerful attractions, but this new man has different tastes and appetites.

Not all unbelievers are utterly hostile to believers. Some of them recognize the beauty of Christian values. They know the importance of truthfulness, faithfulness, and loyalty in relationships. They know the value of teachability and submission among their children and employees. They know the value of conscientiousness, initiative, and diligence. It’s not unusual to see parents who don’t set foot in a church but send their children to Christian schools and gatherings because they know how beautiful our lives are.

We sail on, bearing a different aura—that of humility, joy, love, peace. Our neighbors trust us; we bring peace to tense situations; we don’t harbor grudge. We don’t operate by the common m.o. of avenging ourselves against those who wrong us. We forgive. We work hard for those who trust us with their company; we’re not takers; we’re giver. Our speeches aren’t foul; they’re pleasant; they’re kind. I can go on and on, but we’re obviously different—wonderfully different. We love it. We’re deeply humbled.

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.

Zeal for Good Works

Titus 2:14   (KJV)   14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Is this Scripture in the New Testament? Is it in the age of grace? The answer to both questions is obviously “yes.” Under the New Covenant in the age of grace, good works Titus 2.14 - Zealous for Good Worksstill matter to God. Being zealous of good works is an attitude that characterizes those who are truly His.

The passage is explicit: the reasons or at least two of the reasons why our precious Lord Jesus gave Himself  for us is  to redeem us—pay for—our freed from all iniquity, lawlessness, or wickedness, and to purify us being His peculiar, unique or special people.

Why is this very important—to me at least? Why do I want to address these supposedly obvious issues? It’s because preaching, teaching, or exhortations on obedience, holiness, purity, and good works are criticized in some circles, as if right understanding of grace necessitates discarding of these necessary pursuits.

God’s love, God’s grace, and believers’ good works and uprightness aren’t enemies: “11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:1-13).

Teach Us, Oh LORD

Psalm 86:11   (KJV)   11 Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Having a humble and teachable heart is essential to living in and for God. Having a pure heart is essential to fearing God’s Name.

Psalms 86.11 - Teach Us, Oh LORDWe desire to follow after our precious LORD. The way we do that is by knowing His Word, His ways, and His will. This comes through spending time with Him and His Word. We can’t honestly say we’re living in obedience to Him if we don’t know what to obey. Else, we’ll be hypocritical, and that’s not the kind of heart we want to have. We want to keep our hearts pure before God; that’s one of the ways we honor God, and honoring Him is what we want to do.

We’re grateful to God because He teaches us and is willing to teach us. He’s always waiting, willing, ready to pour our His wisdom to us. So we come before Him, with sincere hearts, with loving fear of Him, with open hearts and minds, we fill ourselves with His precious truths.

Crucified Flesh

Galatians 5:24   (KJV)   24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Yes, our inner struggle against sin is constant. This is true even among the saintliest of saints among us. This is not in any way an attempt to undermine our brothers and sisters in Christ who believe in sinless perfection, that we can attain total sanctification while galatians-5-24-crucified-fleshwe’re still here on earth. Bless their hearts if this is a real experience to them. As for me, and in my humble personal understanding of God’s Word regarding this issue, our struggle will ultimately end when this flesh is completely done away with.

And praise God; that day will come. But we don’t have to wait for that day for us to live in victory. There will be battles against our flesh, but these battles can turn to one victory after another. This is possible because true, genuine believers—followers of Jesus—we, have nailed our flesh and its affections or passions, lusts and ungodly desires to the cross. We render our flesh dead. We follow the Spirit’s leading.

When we allow God’s precious Holy Spirit to take lead, and we follow His guidance, we avoid doing the detestable dictates of our sinful nature. Evil desires become abhorrent to us. As we continue to grow in the Lord, as we continue to taste and see His goodness, we lose our appetite towards ungodliness. We experience the beauty and wonder of a life of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. What’s better than that?