All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. – Isaiah 64:6
What makes you righteous before God? I’m going to write this sentence just to help ensure that you answer the question. It is very important that you know the correct answer. If someone were to ask you that question right now, what would you tell them? I have had this conversation with more than one person these past few weeks. The people I’ve talked to all believe the same thing . . . that their behavior has been so bad that God does not and cannot accept them anymore. How would you answer them?
I want to submit a thought to you: Suppose you lived what you believed was an absolute perfect day. You read the Bible and prayed for two hours to start the day. Then, you went and helped with tornado cleanup in Seneca. You bought lunch for the car behind you at chick-fil-A. You didn’t cuss, you didn’t lie, you didn’t cheat, you didn’t listen to secular rock music, and at the end of it all, you prayed for another hour thanking God for all that He did for you and through you that day. At the end of that day, would God be prouder of you than say another believer who just binge-watched Netflix, played on social media, and ate junk food all day? Does the first Christian have any right at all to say bad things to others about that lazy second Christian? Would God be more likely to receive the first into His kingdom rather than the second if they both died that same night?
The answer is a resounding “no.” Righteousness is not earned at all. Just in case you don’t believe me, the Bible says, “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” – (Ephesians 2:9) As believers, we never get to play the comparison game. I’m going to submit to you that if you play this game, you are in a dangerous spot. In fact, you are an absolute stench in God’s nostrils because the righteous acts you believe make you better than others are nothing more than filthy rags. Righteousness comes from God and God alone. Righteousness is a gift.
God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that through Him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
We become righteous by one thing and one thing only . . . remaining in Him. He is the vine and we are the branches. All we must do to remain righteous is simply remain in Him and never ever let go of our faith and our trust in Him. If you remain in Him, He will eventually prompt you to do good things. Sometimes you will do them, sometimes you will not. Either way, you will learn from your decisions and you will wind up glorifying God because of them. Ultimately, you will realize every good thing, especially the good things that you do, comes from Him and Him alone. He gets all the credit while you get none.
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3
For a Christian, the height of arrogance is believing that you had anything to do with your lot in life. If you honestly believe your kids are better than mine because, as a parent, I’m not doing things like you are, do you see the danger and the pride in that? You are puffed up in spirit. If you honestly believe that you are where you are in life because you “worked hard,” then you are your own giver of good things. Where is the honor due to God for giving you your mindset, health, and abilities? The truth is, you could not possibly be in a better position with God than when you are poor in spirit. Letting God know that there are sins in your life that you can’t stop and won’t stop if He doesn’t help or intervene does not and will not make Him angry. In fact, the opposite is true, you actually gain access to His kingdom. He will intervene to help you with any and every sin in His own good time, not yours. In the meantime, remain in Him. Hold on to Him and never let Him go. Your righteousness comes from Him and Him alone . . . not your good behavior. By all means, if it is in your power to do good, do it. To him who knows to do good and doeth it not, it is sin (James 4:17). At the same time, just because you aren’t doing good or don’t do good at a given moment in time does not mean He is finished with you. Adam sinned, Abraham sinned, David sinned, Peter sinned, and Paul flat out admitted that what he wants to do he doesn’t do, and what he doesn’t want to do, he does (Romans 7:15). He didn’t seem worried that God was done with him. Paul made it clear that his faith wasn’t in himself and his own actions, it was in Christ alone.
I say all this because some awful stuff is being done by people who call themselves Christians. The world is watching this behavior and thinking one thing: If that is the way Christians are, I don’t want to be one. I’ve seen Christ followers over the years call certain preachers “heretics.” Read Philippians 1:15-18, Paul didn’t like the reasons why some people preached, but he still rejoiced that they taught the Name above all names. We have Christians trashing politicians. It does not matter if they are democrats or republicans, they are pretty much equally abused by people who say they are Christians. Here is the thing: God placed them all in power. Read Romans 13:1 and try to convince me otherwise. In 1 Samuel 26, Saul was a terrible king, but David would not kill him or slander him because, like it or not, God put him there. Do we make no effort at all to follow our Biblical examples? Should we vote? Absolutely! Ultimately, will God put who He wants in all places of authority? Absolutely! He owns and runs it all!
You and I, along with every other person on the planet, have hearts that naturally gravitate towards sin. You and I will sin again before we draw our last breath. God was so sure we would be sinning in 2020 that He went ahead and died for our sins 2000 years ago. If you have placed your trust in and believe in Jesus Christ, then you are being transformed into His image. He has given you His righteousness. Never judge another because God hasn’t done in someone else what He has done in you. Most importantly, never ever judge another because they sin differently than you. If you realize you have done this, like I often have, then aren’t you glad that forgiveness and grace are always readily available through Christ, our king? Aren’t you so thankful that He is slow to anger and abounding in mercy? Where would you be today had He not been merciful to you?
Today, reflect on the things that ultimately won you over to God.
What about Him will ultimately win those who, at this very moment, do not know Him?