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Being righteous

Query for the Month

of

May 2012

Next up-date: June 1st 2012 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!
 

Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends.   It's called "Light through Darkness" and is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever read! 

(when you get to the site just click "cancel" and it will let you in.  Then click "order" to obtain a copy. )

In the meantime, try this site.    And here's one where you can read it online.

 

Here's another great site on the character of God written in a way that's very easy to understand.

In this reply the old-fashioned words of the KJV have been modernised, and in some instances, the man-made punctuation has been altered for greater understanding.  Some of the comments are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.  All the ideas expressed in this article, right or wrong, are my own.   


Query: 

Romans 3:10-12.

As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God’.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one.   

1 John 3:7.

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.   

How can we reconcile these two apparently opposing texts?

Answer:  

When two texts in the Bible appear to contradict each other it is normally because they are referring either to two different times, or two different people.  In this case, all those born into this world since the fall are in the condition described in the first text because the sinful actions of Adam and Eve changed their characters so much that they could not reproduce in their children the moral standard they had received at their creation.   

The wonderful provision made in Eden for the holy pair was made by a God who loved them.  Everything in nature was pure and undefiled.  Fruits, flowers, and beautiful, lofty trees flourished in the Garden of Eden.  With all that Adam and Eve required, they were abundantly supplied. 

But Satan came, and insinuated doubts of God’s wisdom.  He accused Him, their heavenly Father and Sovereign, of selfishness, because to test their loyalty He had prohibited them from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  Eve fell under the temptation, and Adam accepted the forbidden fruit from his wife’s hand.  “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression”.  1 Timothy 2:13-14.

He chose to disobey under the smallest test that the LORD could devise to prove his obedience, and the floodgates of woe were opened upon our world.  He was originally created with a holy nature, sinless, pure, undefiled; but this changed because he listened to the suggestions of the enemy; and his posterity were born as depraved as he and his wife now were.  It was the natural result of sin – inherited sinfulness.

After their transgression Adam and Eve could no longer dwell in Eden for it would soon become a place of irritation for them – a hell.  Not realising this, they earnestly entreated that they might remain in the home of their innocence and joy.  They confessed that they had forfeited all right to that happy abode, but pledged themselves for the future to yield strict obedience to God.  But their nature had become depraved by sin; they had lessened their strength to resist evil and had opened the way for Satan to gain more ready access to them.  In the power of their innocence they had yielded to temptation; and now, in a state of conscious guilt, they would have less power to maintain their integrity.

Therefore, in humility and unutterable sadness they had to bid farewell to their beautiful home, and go forth to dwell upon the earth, where rested the curse of sin.  “And to Adam He said, Because you have hearkened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return”.  Genesis 3:17-19.

Strong angels, with beams of light looking like flaming swords turning in every direction, were placed as sentinels to guard the way of the tree of life from the approach of Satan and the guilty pair.  Not to harm them, but to keep them from harm!  Any attempt to approach near to God through that channel would have killed them immediately and the “swords” kept them away.  “And the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil’: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live for ever [in perpetual misery]: therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the Tree of Life”.  Genesis 3:22-24.  That’s how it appeared to them, and that’s how they repeated the story to their descendants, for the guilt of sin changes the way we look at other people’s actions!  Satan and his followers are always blaming God for their misery.

However, some of them did the next best thing – they came to the gates of the Garden for special times of worship.  (Genesis 4:3-4.)  There they practised coming to God through His Son, for there is no other way by which they could do this.  The Spirit has told us through Peter, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [character] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”.  Acts 4:12.

After their choice of disobedience, Satan bade his angels make special efforts to foster the belief in man's natural immortality of the soul; and when they had induced the people to receive this error, they led them to conclude that the sinner would live in eternal misery in an eternally burning hell!  So one scripture can be twisted to have two meanings.

The heavenly host were filled with indignation at this bold work of Satan, and wondered why all these delusions should be allowed to take effect upon the minds of men when the angels of God were powerful, and if commissioned, could easily break the enemy's power. 

But God had a better plan.  He knew that Satan would try every artifice to destroy humanity; therefore He caused His word to be written out, and made His purposes in regard to the human race so plain that the weakest need not err.  After having given His word to man, He carefully preserved it from total destruction by Satan or his angels, or by any of his agents or representatives.  While other books might be destroyed, this was to be immortal.  And near the close of time, when the delusions of Satan should increase, it was to be so multiplied that all who desired might have a copy, and, if they would, might arm themselves against the deceptions and lying wonders of Satan which will culminate in the following action.

“For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only He who now lets [protects] will let [continue to protect], until He be taken out of the way [in men’s minds].  And then shall that Wicked [system] be revealed, whom the LORD shall consume with the spirit of His mouth [that’s how He “fights”], and shall destroy with the brightness of His [second] coming: even Him, whose [second] coming is AFTER the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them [have to allow them a] strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness”.  2 Thessalonians 2:7-12.

God especially guarded the Bible; yet when copies of it were few, learned men had in some instances changed the words, thinking that they were making it more plain, when in reality they were mystifying that which was plain, by causing it to lean to their established views, which were governed by tradition.  But the word of God, as a whole, is a perfect chain, one portion linking into and explaining another.  True seekers for truth need not err; for not only is the Word of God plain and simple in declaring the way of life, but the Holy Spirit is given as a guide in understanding the way to life therein revealed. 

But angels of God are never to control the will of humans.  The LORD sets before men and women life and death.  They can have their choice.  Many desire life, but still continue to walk in the broad road.  (See Matthew 7:13-14.)  They choose to rebel against God's government, notwithstanding His great mercy and compassion in giving His Son to die for them.  Those who do not choose to accept of the salvation so dearly purchased, must reap the result of that choice.  God would not shut them up in hell to endure endless misery as some teach, neither will He take them to heaven; for to bring them into the company of the pure and holy would also make them exceedingly miserable. 

But they will be destroyed utterly by their own hands and be as if they had not been.  (Obadiah 1:16.)  “And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against [the heavenly] Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth [as His life power is rejected].  And it shall come to pass [also] in that day [it’s sometimes called “the Lake of Fire”], that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them [as His compassion is rejected]; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour”.  Zechariah 14:12-13.

Then His justice will be seen to be fair, for they will have destroyed themselves.  He formed man out of the dust of the earth, and the disobedient and unholy will be consumed by fire and return to dust again.  Speaking to Satan and all who follow him, the LORD says, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you. You have defiled your sanctuaries [bodies] by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffic [behaviour]; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of you, it shall devour you, and I will bring you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold you.         All they that know you among the people shall be astonished at you: you shall be a terror, and never shall you be any more”.  Ezekiel 28:17-19.

The benevolence and compassion of God in this matter should lead all to admire His character and to adore His holy name.  After the rebels are destroyed from off the earth, all the heavenly host will say, “Amen!”  And John tells us, “And I heard the angel of the waters say, ‘You are righteous, O LORD, which are, and were, and shall be, because You have judged thus.  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink; for they are worthy’.  And I heard another out of the altar say, ‘Even so, LORD God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments’.”   Revelation 16:5-7.

Satan looks with great satisfaction upon those who profess the name of Christ, yet closely adhere to the clever deceptions which he himself has originated.  His work is still to devise new delusions, and his power in this direction continually increases.  He led his representatives, the popes and the priests, to exalt themselves, and to stir up the people to bitterly persecute and destroy those who were not willing to accept his false ideas.  The sufferings and agony which the precious followers of Christ were made to endure can never be known while we are on earth, but loyal angels have kept a faithful record of it all. 

Satan and his rebellious angels exultingly told those heavenly angels who ministered to the suffering saints that they were all to be killed, so that there would not be left a true Christian upon the earth.  At those times the church of God was more pure than it is now.  There was little danger of men and women with corrupt hearts coming into it, for the true Christian, who dared to declare his or her faith, was in danger of the rack, the stake, and every torture which Satan and his evil angels could invent or inspire in the mind of man.

But, going back to the story outside the Garden, we find that after Adam lost Eden by disobedience, and sin entered the world, his posterity became more and more badly behaved.  The entire population of the world, with a few exceptions, were eventually taken up by depravity and corruption.  “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart [because of their misery]”.  Genesis 6:5-6.

So He worked on the sympathy of Noah and his family and friends to make a way of escape from the inevitable crash that would come.  While the building of the ark was in progress they preached and offered it as a place of safety.  But, as time went by and it became obvious that the majority were rejecting the offer, the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air [by My very effort to save them!] .  .  .’  verse 7.

And thus it was by a flood that the earth was swept clean of the majority of its moral corruption when His intention had been to save them all.  “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD”.  Genesis 6:8.          

This leads us to the second part of the query.

That there were some who had chosen to accept the offer was evidenced by the eight people who entered the ark before the Flood.  “.  .  .  which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved [from destruction] by water”.  1 Peter 3:20.  “You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact—saved from the water by the water. The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus' resurrection before God with a clear conscience”. (The Message version).

They had been born corrupt and under “the law of sin and death” at their physical birth (Romans 8:2), but now their obedience saved them from a premature physical death.  (They all died the first death later in history.)   But, “The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ .  .  “.  1 Peter 3:21.  Thus we are told that it was a picture of the real thing.

When John wrote; “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7), he was referring to those who have accepted the gift of the SECOND birth.  This causes them to be re-born with a different nature, so that they can be, and are, called righteous.  He (or she) that DOES righteousness IN Christ’s righteousness IS righteous! 

And thus the contest has gone on for centuries!

Later, at the end of the Bible, it is written; “And He said to me, ‘Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.  He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and HE THAT IS RIGHTEOUS, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be’”.  Revelation 22:10-12.

We also have these words:  “Who has declared from the beginning, that we may know?  And beforetime, that we may say, ‘He is righteous?’  Yea, there is none that shows, yea, there is none that declares, yea, there is none that hears Your words [regarding this]”.  Isaiah 41:26.  It is ONLY God who can declare that someone is righteous, but when He has done, very few have believed Him, for His definition does not often fit ours.   

However, it is recorded by the Spirit that; 

Noah was called righteous by God (Genesis 7:1); Abraham argued with the LORD that there could righteous people in Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33); Balaam desired to die the death of the righteous (Numbers 23:10); Saul testified of David that he was a better man than himself (1 Samuel 24:17); the psalmist called on those who were righteous to be glad and rejoice (Psalm 32:11); the LORD watches over them and listens to them (Psalm 34:15-19); Jesus said that they do not need the heart repentance of the unjust (Mark 2:17); and John the Baptist’s parents received him as a gift because of their righteousness (Luke 1:6). 

 

Conclusion:

Whether a person is righteous or nor depends entirely on whether they have accepted the second birth.  With the change of heart comes the change of state.  So it is correct to say that none are righteous in the beginning, but it is also correct to say that some have become righteous later in life.  But only God can accurately define that condition so we must leave it to Him to proclaim it in the judgment, which is what He does in the Revelation 22 quote.   


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated,

but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.

 

Next query. To be discussed from June 1st 2012,

Jeremiah 27:5-6

God says, “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed meet to Me.  And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him”. 

Does God co-operate with sinners and help them in conquering the world?

 

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