RIGHTEOUSNESS EXAMINEDCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (II Peter 3:13)
It may be true that there is no greater area of confusion in Christian thinking than that of righteousness. This may not be true in other religions. It is because the Apostle Paul taught that by "accepting Christ" we are righteous, although we are not necessarily righteous in behavior.
Since most people, being born with a sinful nature, are not righteous in behavior, the result of Paul's teaching is that most Christians are not righteous in behavior. Therefore the Christian Church is not the light of the world. The Lord Jesus said our good works are our light.
The Apostle Paul drew his teaching of righteousness apart from righteous behavior from the fact that God counted Abraham righteous when Abraham believed God's promise concerning a son. But later in his life, God commanded Abraham to walk before God and be perfect. Also, Abraham became the father of many nations by being willing to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.
So it was not true that Abraham was counted righteous apart from obedience to God, except for the one instance of believing God for the impossible, which itself was an act of obedience. After believing God for the birth of Isaac, Abraham no longer would have been counted righteous had he then lived a sinful, disobedient life. Do you agree with that statement?
Also, if we "accept Christ," and then live a sinful, disobedient life, would we still be judged to be righteous? I do not think so, do you? In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote that if we Christians continue to yield to our sinful nature we will reap destruction; we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
So we see from the above that the current Christian teaching is in error when it maintains that after we "accept Christ" we forever are righteous.
I tend to place "accept Christ" in quotations marks because it is not a scriptural phrase. The Apostles did not urge people to "accept Christ" as a means of escaping the need to grow in godly behavior, but to turn from the Law of Moses and place their faith in Christ that He might lead them in paths of righteousness.
Christian people, for the most part I guess, realize in their heart that to be in the image of God means we must grow in righteous, holy behavior. I think they understand that Heaven is not filled with sinning people whom God sees through Christ. What kind of Heaven would that be? It would be no different from the churches of today, filled with envy, lying, people seeking to be preeminent, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, stealing, fornication, adultery, child molestation, and so forth.
Realizing that such behavior is not a part of the Kingdom of God, the believers have theorized that when we die we will not sin any longer. Death is our deliverer from sin. However, there is no basis in the Bible for the thought that death will deliver us from sin.
When we get to Heaven we will not sin anymore. However, sin began in Heaven when one of the guardian cherubim decided to take the place of the Father. Sin did not originate with Adam and Eve but with the snake who came down from Heaven.
Believers have theorized that when the Lord comes He will remove our sins. But when the Lord came to the servant who did not use his Kingdom resources, Jesus did not make His servant a diligent, industrious person Instead, the Lord took his talent from him and sent him into the outer darkness. So there is no basis in the Bible that when the Lord comes to us as an individual He will make a lazy, casual Christian into a saint.
The Bible says we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. A closer look at the fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians will reveal that the change mentioned there is referring only to the mortal body.
The thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew informs us that in the last days the angels will remove all sin and sinners from the Kingdom of God. That is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, and it is taking place today. For those who have ears to hear, the Spirit of God is telling us to confess our sins clearly and specifically, and then vigorously renounce them, asking Christ to help us never to practice those behaviors again for eternity. It is an eternal judgment.
The sins that must be confessed clearly and specifically are those of the love of the world; the love of the pleasures of the flesh; and self-will. Our cry from now on is, "Not my will but Yours be done."
I was in a church once where there was a spirit of stealing. In fact, someone in the congregation stole the Communion table.
Can you imagine? What if a church member stole something from you. When you caught him at it he said, "I am righteous because I have accepted Christ." What would you think about that?
The truth is, the destructive teaching of lawless-grace has extinguished the Light of God from the Christian churches. This is why the United States will experience fiery Divine judgment.
The Apostle Peter spoke of a new world of righteousness.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (II Peter 3:10-13)
Peter mentions "a new earth, the home of righteousness." When you picture the behavior of people on the new earth, what comes to your mind?
Do you think of today's church people, who are no better and no worse than the people in the world? There is unforgiveness, arrogance, bitterness, hatred, gossip, slander, lying, stealing, and so forth. Is this how you picture the "home of righteousness"?
But wouldn't that be acceptable because they all are covered by grace? God sees them through Christ although they are sinful and self-seeking?
If you are like me, you would rather live by yourself in some desolate area rather than among such people.
Maybe when we tell people they should get saved so they can go to Heaven, they picture the self-satisfied Christians of today. They then think, "I really don't care to be with such people." Could that be the case? Are people drawn to Christ through our behavior? Are they impressed when we behave in our self-centered way and claim we are saved by grace?
What do Christians mean when they put signs on their cars that say "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven"? Are they telling the world that people had better not expect them to behave in a godly manner because God has forgiven their poor behavior?
I will tell you how I picture the "home of righteousness."
I picture righteous people living in love, joy, and peace. They love God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves.
There would be no locks on their homes. That would be unthinkable.
They work at whatever tasks God has equipped them to do. Money is not used as a means of exchanging services. Those who are rich, are rich in character. Their character makes way for them among people, and they consider themselves the servants of all.
People who are not accustomed to the righteous ways of Heaven will be taught by people and angels. They will be instructed in love for God, total obedience to the Lord Jesus, and love for one another.
Since Satan, the angels who followed him in rebellion, wicked people, and the demons, have all been incarcerated in the fires that give no light, the atmosphere on the new earth will be conducive to righteous behavior, love, joy, and peace.
I think the prevailing atmosphere will be one of love. God is Love, and those who love God and Christ always are growing in love. That love takes the place of all sinful behavior; because what is the source of most sin if it is not lack of love?
People can isolate themselves if they wish to, but most people will be happier being close to one another.
"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people;
The sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more." (Isaiah 65:17-19)
People will be performing tasks which they have been given the ability to perform and which they enjoy doing. They really will be playing, just as Adam and Eve had the one responsibility of looking after the garden. There will be no grueling tasks that people are compelled to perform in order to have money to buy food and pay their rent.
All will people work at something so they may have to give to others. Those who are lazy and do not wish to contribute to others will be sent back to school so their attitude may be corrected. Those who refuse instruction, after every means to help them has been exhausted, will be sent to be with Satan and wicked people.
To leave lazy people, or grasping, ambitious individuals among the happy inhabitants of the new earth would soon bring about the sins to which we all are accustomed.
As I said, those who are rich are rich in character will be servants of all. Each person will perform the work he or she does in order to be a blessing to others.
There have been experiments with socialistic government on the earth, but they always fail because of the sinful nature of people. Whether democracy, or socialism, or capitalism, or a monarchy, or a dictatorship, the wicked soon find ways of rising to the top. Before long some are living in luxury while the majority toil endlessly so the wicked can take their ease.
It is so in free-enterprise capitalism. It is so in communism. It always shall be so until the one righteous King returns and governs mankind according to the will of the Father.
Just about anyone in the world can tell you what righteousness is: integrity, honesty, fairness, faithfulness, uprightness of character, truthfulness, politeness, concern for those in need.
Ask a Christian what righteousness is. He or she may say there is no one who is righteous except by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus is righteous. According to the Bible there have been many righteous people in the world, beginning with Noah. God loves righteousness of behavior.
Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right." (Acts 10:34,35)
"God accepts those who do what is right," the Bible states.
People, we have been misinformed. We have been told a lie. I do not understand how the lawless-grace message began, whether it was with the cry of the Reformers that we are saved by faith alone, or with Dispensational theology, or with the influence of the philosophy of Humanism.
At some point there has crept into Christian thinking the idea that salvation is a sovereign intervention of God that operates independently of the behavior of the believer.
What an incredible error! How removed from the bulk of the text of the New Testament, which always teaches righteous behavior and the consequences of unrighteous behavior!
We have been seduced with a masterful deception. Can you imagine the idea that God, in whose righteous image we are supposed to be being fashioned, saying that no moral change in us is required for us to go to Heaven and be with Him?
I do not know when the idea of lawless-grace originated, perhaps in the days of the Apostles with the influence of the Gnostics.
It seems to me that the Apostles Jude and John reacted to Gnosticism or a similar religion or philosophy.
For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 4)
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (John 3:7-10)
No devout, intelligent believer could maintain I John 3:7-10 is the true Word of God and then support the current lawless-grace teaching.
This is my firm conviction, and I hope it is yours also.
Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. (Isaiah 60:21)