2006-05-16 - Righteous Living
Psalms 34:17 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
These two verses state that God listens to righteous people. He hears their prayers. He also watches them and delivers them out of troubles. Just a quick aside but delivering the righteous out of troubles is not the same as preventing troubles. It simply means he'll see you through them.
Wow, so this sounds great live a righteous life and God will listen to your prayers. But what exactly does it mean to be righteous?
The English word righteous comes from two Old English words right and wise. So being righteous means being right wise, or being smart about doing what is right, moral, good, or holy. Righteous means right living, doing what God desires for us to do and commands us to do. God loves us so he set up boundaries to protect us and keep us safe the Ten Commandments. "And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us." (Deuteronomy 6:25) The law acts as a guide to living righteously. These standards are so important that God not only wrote them in stone for the Israelites but he also wrote them on the hearts of all mankind. With or without knowledge of the Ten Commandments, we instinctively know that lying, stealing, murdering, and the like are wrong. Being righteous means doing what is right in God's sight according to his guidelines not the relative standards of humanity.
But being righteous goes way beyond merely doing the right thing. Doing good deeds is a lot like paying my bills. I can pay my phone bill, on time, month after month but until I plug a phone into the jack trusting that it will work as promised, I'll never be able to place a call. By faith, we have to plug in to God. "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Philippians 3:9) At some point, we have to realize that being righteous goes beyond being good to include not being bad. If we are honest, we all must admit that we do things which are not right at times. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. (Romans 3:10) We are not righteous on our own, but there is hope. As our savior, the righteous Jesus became our unrighteousness so we could become the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
In this light, the opening passages could be summarized as God listens best to those who listen best to him. We must start listening by accepting his righteousness for our unrighteousness and his leadership of our lives. Then we must continually listen. This is why faith and works go hand in hand.
James 2:18-24 (NIV) But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe thatand shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted