I had an opportunity to speak with an acquaintance of mine the other day and I had previously asked him to read through the Gospel of John. I asked him what he got out of it and his response was that it made him understand that he (my acquaintance) was a pretty good guy. Of course, I found this difficult to comprehend considering that the whole point of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins is that we are not pretty good guys. It turns out that he actually hadn’t read it. I had to back off because he became defensive and I could tell he was very uncomfortable. He’s on my prayer list and God will open another door.
A dear Christian brother of mine, who is now with the Lord, used to say that the closer we get to God, the more we come to realize how our human nature is so different from God’s nature. Understanding the nature of God is so vitally important. By nature I mean who God really is, the essence of God as compared to who we really are, our own natural essence.
I just finished reading through Hebrews again (talk about a compelling and inspirational sermon!) and I was reminded of the whole path that God chose to declare His nature and intent throughout the Old Testament.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) reads:
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
In a previous post I mentioned where a number of years ago for a brief period of two or three minutes I had been ushered into the presence of God and that instantaneously I was made aware of three things: God is Holy, my nature or person was definitely not and that God loved me. Being in the presence of God made me want to kneel in my spirit to Him because Holy was not a word, God’s Holiness emulated from Him. Written words cannot explain what I felt.
Isaiah 5:16 (NIV) reads:
16 But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice,
and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts.
The word “Holy” is state of character that is personified by justice and righteousness. God’s nature per sec is absolute with no deviation.
As humans, our judgement can be influenced by circumstances, example our son or daughter or even ourself is the offender. God can’t do that and rightly so. Injustice is injustice and unrighteousness is unrighteousness. Just because someone may think it is alright or acceptable for them to violate a marriage and sleep with someone else’s wife, in God’s eyes both parties have committed a sin. The violation is not acceptable because it involves your son or daughter or even yourself.
Hebrews 6:17 (NIV)
17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.
Hebrews 6:18 (NIV)
18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.
James 1:17 (NIV)
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Motive on what we think, do or say is always the key factor with God. And our own heart or mind can be very deceptive when it comes to explaining or justifying what we have done. When we use our own worldly yardstick to evaluate our deeds we can easily end up with the opinion that all things considered, we really are not a bad guy. The problem being, God doesn’t use our yardstick, He uses his own and it is much more decisive.
Adultery is a good example. God’s righteousness in the Old Testament declares that adultery is not acceptable behaviour.
Exodus 20:14 (NIV) “You shall not commit adultery.
Note what Jesus said about adultery.
Matthew 5:28 (NIV) “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
The Apostle Paul came to grips with the reality of his own human nature when he said:
Rom 7: 21-25 NIV “ So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Romans 10:4 (NIV) “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
Our righteousness does not come from our own worldly good deeds but rather from the righteousness that we have obtained in Christ through faith in the accomplished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf on the cross. We are righteous in God the Father’s eyes because Jesus was and is righteous and because of our faith in Christ, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) “ God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Romans 5:17 (NIV) “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”
1 Peter 3:18 (NIV) “ For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”
And what did the Apostle Paul have to say about his own righteousness, Paul states:
1 Timothy 1:15-17 (NIV)
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
So no, I categorically am NOT a good guy and those who reject the accomplished work of the Son of God on the cross on their behalf will stand at the Judgement and give response with their own righteousness. That is not a good thing.