Thursday, April 19, 2012

Righteous Before God

Luke 1:5-7 (ESV)
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. [6] And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. [7] But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

“And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. “
Sometimes these phrases jump out at me. I wonder how they work in relation to say : “ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24 (ESV) Of course this is an exercise in Biblical Hermeneutics. Zecharia was righteous before God, and as a result of this he walked blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
Of course, it is God we want to be righteous before. The problem with people is they too often confuse themselves with God. This is the original sin, the desire to be God. Which is really the desire one way or another to keep God out of it. The hedonist and the prude often have at heart the same problem. The one wants God to stay out of his life so he can determine for himself what is and is not fun, the other would often like to keep God out of his life so he can figure out what is and is not good and virtuous. Being righteous before God requires a complete denial of self in both spheres. It isn’t for us to decide over against God’s law what is good or bad. We don’t make those decisions. Society can’t make those decisions for us. What scares me about the atheist program is being held accountable to the standards man sets… that was the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees. Men are much harsher law givers than Moses or God ever dreamt of being. Of course we also have a tendency to turn a blind eye to the sins we enjoy engaging in… on the other hand we start throwing stones at others for things that aren’t even sins. We can’t do it.
Of course, the other danger is to think we can earn our righteousness before God by walking blamelessly in his statutes and commandments. The first thing one should realize if he is not completely self righteous, when reading the Ten Commandments, is how much we fail at them. If not in deed, then in thought and word. We are at odds with God’s commandments. Our desires are contrary to them. Mine are quite often anyway. There have been times when my desire to chop a person’s head off were a bit more than the metaphorical rhetoric of Ted Nugent. Go ahead, tell me you never wished for a person to die. I’ve heard people say that stuff before. I take it as impious smoke being blown up the hind region. Perhaps I’m just, what do they call it, projecting? But the fact that I have to do that, is getting me back to the original problem I just laid out for you, my desire isn’t really metaphorical… Don’t worry, to my knowledge I have never taken the life of anyone, and I don’t plan to now. Though, I was very proud to play a small part in sending planes over former Yugoslavia in the mid 1990s. The sixth commandment? I don’t even want to talk about how my desires are so often contrary to this commandment. This is why the commandments end with prohibitions on coveting, to show that even our desires are against God’s law. If they weren’t God never would have had to write them down. It’s not that I don’t agree with them. I agree whole heartedly with them. I find them to be brilliant. I’m glad to have them. Asking me, to this day they convey a touch of the divine. They cut through the soul. Sometimes I recite them from memory to people blathering on about how good they are, and watch them wince. These ten will convince and atheist he is not good. Reading them we learn quite quickly that we often desire to do to others what we do not want them to do to us. Finally we realize how inadequate are our own morals are.
Zechariah was righteous before God. His righteousness before God was the same as anyone’s righteousness before God, he believed, and trusted in God. He wasn’t perfect in this either. None of us are, our sin exposes how little we trust in God, how little we fear, how little we love. But Zechariah had faith, the same faith for which Abraham was counted righteous before God. And this faith has a strange effect on people, It brings out a love not only for God, but also for the people God’ loves, which is all of them. It gives us a desire to be different than who we are. It gives us a Romans Seven complex. And that complex, well it lets us walk blamelessly before God, blameless, not because we have managed to keep his law, but blameless because we have been forgiven.

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