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Justice and Morality

“Far be it from you to do such a thing–to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25

Image result for justiceGod is just. He constantly acts according to what is morally right or fair, morals being the principles that determine what is good and bad.

God is the moral law. Our Creator is the standard of right and wrong, good and bad. And He is unchanging in His promises [Hebrews 6:18]. He cannot be defined by whim or caprice [Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:21]. Though His judgments are unsearchable by the human mind [Romans 11:33], His justice is as unchanging as His character.

Throughout human history, cultural values and moral judgments have shifted. But with God that which is right today is what has always been and what will always be right. Likewise, that which is wrong today is what has always been and what will always be wrong.

Most people don’t like this attribute, because–having bought into Satan’s lie that they can be their own god–they want to decide for themselves what is good and bad, what is right and wrong, what is just and unjust. So much so, that people will surround themselves with others who say exactly what they want to hear [2 Timothy 4:3] just so they don’t have to deal with God’s truth on the matter.

But God is the judge of the whole earth. Everyone will stand before Him alone one day [Hebrews 9:27]. Everyone will answer for the things done and said in this life [Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12]. Everyone will bow their knee and confess God as God and Jesus Christ, His Son, as Lord of all [Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10].

In that day, God will separate the righteous from the unrighteous [Hebrews 4:12]. The one blessed with eternal life and the other cast into the lake of burning sulfur [Matthew 25:31-46].

The choice is as simple and clear cut as black and white. As God posed the question to Cain, let us also consider, If you do what is right, will you not be accepted [Genesis 4:7]

Who determines what is morally right and good in your life? Which side of eternity will you be on?



Hazy Copies

“They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'” Hebrews 8:5

Image result for copy of a copyA copy is never identical to the original. But it is clearer and more accurate than subsequent copies. Meaning, if someone were to make a photocopy, then make a photocopy from that copy and so on, each copy becomes hazier and less accurate than the first.

It’s the same way with our understanding of and patterning after God. We are called to be like Christ [1 John 3:2]. If we are in Christ, our hearts are being built into a living tabernacle, acceptable to God [1 Peter 2:5]. We ourselves are to be a copy of the original.

God made us in His image at the Creation. Christ makes us anew and the Holy Spirit reforms the Father’s image in us, but only if we pattern ourselves after Him.

God is good. While our goodness can never save us, in Christ by faith we do the good works God intended us to do from the Creation [Ephesians 2:10]. Without God, how would even know what good is?

Many, however, accept hand-me-down faith. They attend church from childhood and become a copy of the people in the church. Maybe the pastor is a great man of God. Maybe the choir leader has a great heart for worshiping God. Maybe our teachers genuinely know and love God. Maybe our parents and grandparents are people of true faith. These are all good things. And these people are all good role models.

However, their lives–like ours–ultimately fall short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23]. They themselves are still in the process of being transformed by the renewing of their minds [Romans 12:2]. Patterning ourselves after any one of them will make us an untrue version of another person rather than a genuine copy of Christ.

God is good and we are the light of His goodness to the world around us. Are you patterning your life after the original through prayer and Bible study? Or are you living as a copy of a copy?


Created for Good

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31

Image result for feeding hungryGod is good.

Many automatically respond to this truth with the pithy chorus, *All the time!* And while there is some truth therein, it is a limited truth turned into a reflexive, religious chant. How many reply in vain, having forgotten or never fully known what God’s goodness truly means?

And why don’t we realize the fullness of His goodness? Could it be because we don’t live it forward as we were created to do?

We were created in God’s image [Genesis 1:26-27]. So then each of His attributes were meant to be an integral part of our own character. But sin deposed God from the throne of our hearts so that humankind is not born basically good, as philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau surmised. Nor even basically evil, as philosopher Thomas Hobbes argued. Rather, we are born sinful–which means that we are separated from God because of our fallen human nature which itself desires to be its own god.

When self is god, then self gets to decide what is good. And self is only interested in what is good for self. God’s goodness, though, is panoptic and it is all-encompassing. God’s goodness flows from His infinite wisdom and omniscience. He sees all, hears all, knows all about all for all of created time, and He works toward the overarching good of everyone in all of human history.

That is quite the difference from our self-limiting goodness. Because when everyone does what is right in their own eyes [Judges 17:6 & 21:25], the result is that everyone visits evil on everyone else. Not always maliciously and intentionally, but even unintentional and accidental effects of our choices can bring great harm to others.

That is why scriptures implore us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect [Matthew 5:48]. Not that we can actually, in this life, attain to perfect goodness at all times–we can’t. But we can become more like Christ everyday through the Holy Spirit working in us [Matthew 16:24-26; Luke 9:23; John 14:26; Romans 12:2; Galatians 3:26-28].

And just as God breathed life into the first man Adam [Genesis 2:7] and proclaimed that His Creation was very good, so also Jesus’ last breath on the cross created us anew to do the good works we abandoned after the advent of sin [Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30; Ephesians 2:10]. But only if we choose to accept God’s grace by faith. And only if we then choose to surrender our lives to His Lordship so that we may be His instrument of goodness in a lost and dying world.

Are you allowing yourself daily to be made into the image of Christ? Does God’s goodness flow freely through your life?


Side by Side

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

See the source imageGod is transcendent. He is equally above the highest earthly authority and the basest of criminals. He is equally above the ordinary good guy and the saintliest of saints.

Just as we grade levels of badness, rank acts of evil and sort them from minor wrongdoings, so too we rate our own goodness. How do I measure up when compared to another human being? I’m not as good as Mother Theresa, but I’m not as bad as my drunken neighbor who beats his family.

But that’s all human perception, and actually, human misperception. Sure our faith should spur us on to good works [James 2:17-26], but those good works do not save us [Ephesians 2:8-9]. Rather, by God’s infinite grace, it is our finite faith that saves us. And while we will each have to give an account of ourselves to God [Romans 14:12], it is only the Christ in us that will justify us before our heavenly Father [Romans 5:1-2].

Consider walking across a beach. Each grain of sand is so small underfoot that we don’t register which ones are larger and which ones are smaller. We are equally larger than the minute variations in each of the millions of grains of sand that make up a single beach.

Or consider the stars. The distance to each one from the earth varies considerably. Yet to the naked human eye, the night sky paints them all as if they were hung side by side.

It’s not a perfect analogy–nothing is when we try to fit our infinite God into our finite understanding–but it gives us a very basic idea of all this transcendence business.

When we stand before God, it’s all going to come down to the same thing–faith in Christ. God loves each of us the same. God sees each of our sinful natures the same. And God’s goodness is equally above any and every good work that we find to do. He has no favorites [Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25]!

Do you think of yourself more highly than you ought [Romans 12:3]? Are you resting on your own merit? Or, through faith, are you resting on God’s grace–Christ?


Standing on the Faithful One

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.” Psalm 33:4

Image result for standing on a rockIn the beginning, God said, Let there be–and all of Creation sprang forth. The Word of God spoke light and life into existence. More importantly, the Word of God has sustained, does sustain and will sustain all that He made–without question about whether He can or will.

God is faithful.

The work He began, He is and will see to the end, unswervingly [Philippians 1:6]. As the Psalmist says, God’s law is perfect and His statutes are trustworthy, His precepts are right and His decrees are firm [Psalm 19:7-9].

Law–that system of rules and regulations that govern word and deed. The world’s system is imperfect–it is flawed and lacking. But God’s law is flawless and complete. And He carries out His perfect law without fail.

Statutes–God’s laws in writing. Again, the world’s written laws are unreliable, even corrupt. People of prominence or those with connections in authority leverage their position to gain immunity. Lawmakers themselves often violate the very laws they write and expect their constituents to uphold, but find loopholes to escape the consequence. But God’s Word, His written decrees, are trustworthy. We can depend on God to always do what He said He would do–whether it be heavenly blessings for repentance and right-living or whether it be consequences for sin.

Precepts–thought and behavior regulators. The world’s patterns of thought and behavior don’t align with Our Creator’s design and are, therefore, incorrect. But God’s thoughts steadfastly transcend our own [Isaiah 55:8]. And He constantly desires to restore right thought and behavior patterns so that we may have life to the full [John 10:10; Romans 12:2].

Decrees–legal orders. The world’s authoritative orders are inconsistently meted out and enforced. As such, decrees can be whimsically reactive. They also tend to peter out over time. Not so with God. When He commands, the command faithfully stands. He is not wishy-washy that He should change His mind. He does not show favoritism that He should enforce the command with some and not others. He does not forget or lose interest or need to change His commands to accommodate for some new development in world history.

In all His ways and in all His words, God is faithful. He adheres, unwaveringly, to the truth of His nature in all things.

As we are made in His image–while we cannot ourselves make perfect laws, statutes, precepts and decrees–we can faithfully stand on the ones given to us in loving wisdom by our God who is right and true.

Are you faithfully standing on God’s Word?


Soul Anchor

“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. 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. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:17-19b

Image result for anchorWhim is not a Godly word. Caprice can never describe our Creator. God is unchanging [aka immutable].

He is the anchor of our souls.

An anchor secures a ship at sea so that the wind and the waves cannot push it to destruction.

He is the cornerstone of our lives.

A cornerstone sets the standard for the rest of the structure. And any building that perfectly aligns with every predetermined point of its cornerstone will not fall.

He is the head of our churches.

A head directs even the smallest functions of the body to work together for the good of the whole and to the glory and honor of God. Any body part that refuses to function as it was intended and as is needed for the health of the body, is removed so that the body does not become sick, infected, or diseased. And ultimately, so that it will not die.

God is the measure. We are the measured in Him.

But imagine taking a test where the rules are different for everyone. The teacher uses different questions for each person depending on how well they like them, or maybe on how they feel that day. Grading is done with answer keys that don’t match the tests that were given, and the teacher doesn’t want to hear that it’s an unfair practice. Students and parents alike would be in an uproar. And rightly so.

You see, rubber bands don’t make good rulers.

God is unchanging. He is the Sovereign authority because He created all that is. He is the epitome of morality because good from bad is discernible only in the light of His person.

We can trust that whenever we come to God, He is going to act consistently with His character. He is not going to turn His back on the repentant. He is not going to get angry at the forgiven when they stumble and fall. He is not going to weary of our prayers. He is not going to break His promises.

And if a whim is not of God, then should we who are being made into His image act on ours? If caprice cannot describe our Creator, then should it describe those of us who have been made a new creation in Him?

Is the Christ-likeness of your character consistent or capricious?



In Finite Faith

“O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond searching out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” Romans 11:33-34

Image result for plumb line

God is infinite.

His eternality is only one facet of this truth. It is His infinite nature in regards to the aspect of time.

But everything that God is, He is so infinitely.

No one can calculate the depth of His wisdom, or knowledge, or great love. No one can comprehend the fullness of His truth or the holiness of His justice. No one can give thanks in equal measure to His goodness and mercy. No one can appraise His riches or quantify any aspect of God in anyway. Because–while He Created the order of logic that governs mathematics–He Himself cannot be contained or defined by numbers.

He is God. He is infinite–that is He has no limits, no one and nothing bounds Him in.

We are limited in every way. But in this, and every human weakness, God shows Himself strong in our lives–if we allow Him to [2 Corinthians 12:9-11]. A fact that King Belshazzar was reminded of the hard way.

The hand appeared out of thin air and inscribed on the wall for all to read: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. Mene and Parsin spoke specifically to Belshazzar’s kingdom, but Tekel speaks to us all.

TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting [Daniel 5:27].

To be weighed on a balance scale, there must be something or someone that we are being weighed against–a measure that we need to match. Being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect [Matthew 5:48]. Being sinless just as Christ was sinless [2 Corinthians 5:21]. Things that we can never attain by our own works [Ephesians 2:8-9]. An infinite plumb line measures our finite existence. Boundless righteousness measures the filthy rags of our most humane works [Isaiah 64:6]. The sinlessly perfect heart of Christ is weighed against our own sinfully rebellious one.

Is there any wonder that we are found wanting?

Only God Himself can meet up to this measure of Godliness. And He gladly did so for our sakes. He lovingly sacrificed His perfect Son Jesus for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:13]. Christ became our righteousness, making peace with God on our behalf [Romans 5:18-21; Ephesians 2:14-18].

Our finite, sinful hearts can never balance in the scales as compared to the infinite, righteous heart of Christ–but it doesn’t have to . By God’s grace, all we need to do to balance the heavenly scales of judgment is accept Christ by faith [John 3:16]. When we do, His heart takes our place. Mercifully, God weighs Jesus’s heart against Jesus in our heart, and the scale balances.

Will you accept God’s infinite love for you? Will you accept His infinite grace in finite faith? Or will you insist on weighing your human effort on the scales and be found wanting?