Whose Righteousness Anyway?, By Pastor Dean Harvey – A Transcript from his daily radio show
We asked a question. Does God expect us to be personally righteous? The Bible answers with a resounding "Yes." It is absurd to think that God does not want us to be personally righteous. If sin is the problem that brought Jesus from heaven to earth, and then to the cross, how can the sin problem be solved if sin continues in the life of the one who becomes a Christian? If we are unrighteous, does that bring glory to God? No, it takes glory away from Him. Consider the most common excuse why sinners do not attend church, or consider that there is any reality in Christianity. Isn’t it that there are too many hypocrites in the church? The world knows that unrighteousness (sin) does not square with the testimony of a Christian, and if we will be honest, so do we.
The Bible clearly teaches that we should live righteous, godly, and holy lives. It clearly teaches us to avoid sin, to turn from sin and repent. We are moral beings created in God’s image, and He fully expects us to live godly as He does. Consider 1 Peter 1:16, where God is quoted as saying, "BE YE HOLY, AS I AM HOLY." This simple command refutes the common understanding that many people have. Most of the Christians I have known have believed two things which are wrong, that God could not sin, and that men cannot help sinning. However, this simple phrase tells us that we are to be holy (righteous) just like God is, and the idea is that God is holy in the same way that He expects us to be holy, by choice. We are moral beings in the image of God, and we can make the wrong choices. God exhorts us not to make the wrong (sinful) choices.
The Bible teaches that we keep His commandments. Deut. 5:10-"...to those who love Me and keep my commandments." John 5:14, "You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you." The Bible gives a clear definition of sin in 1 John 3:4, "Sin is the transgression of the law (God’s commandments). And by contrast, those who have come to know Him "keep His commandments," 1 John 2:1-6. Additionally, 1 John 5:3 emphasizes that His commandments "are not burdensome." Not only are we to keep His commandments, we are to do His will. Matt. 7:21, "Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father..." And John 2:17, "he that doeth the will of God abideth (lives) forever."
The Bible teaches that we should turn from sin, stop sinning, and "sin not." Jer.26:3, "perhaps...everyone will turn from his evil way." Prov. 28:13, "...he who confesses and forsakes them (his sins) will find mercy." Isa. 1:16-17, "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, remove the evil of your deeds from My (God’s) sight, cease to do evil, learn to do good." In John 5:14 and 8:11, Jesus said to two different people, "Go and sin no more." In 1 Cor. 15:34, Paul says, "Become sober-minded as you ought, and do not sin, for some have not the knowledge of God, I speak this to your shame." The implication of this verse is that we need to live righteous lives in order to have any positive effect in leading sinners to the knowledge of God.
Does the Bible state that we are unable to do the things the Lord requires of us? Does the Bible imply, or state, that God, or Christ, is going to do these things for us? As God expected Cain to do the right thing and overcome sin, so He expects us to do so. He expects us to keep His commandments. Passages like Micah 6:8 express the reasonableness of God’s requirements. 1 John 5:3 says that His commandments "are not burdensome." And Jesus assures us that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Contrast that with the Old Testament passage which says that the "way of the transgressor is hard." I know from experience that since I have been obeying God, I have a clear conscience, and the burdens of guilt which used to plague me as a young man are gone. How wonderful is the Christian life!