If we spoke of what it means to be truly righteous, we would have to conclude that while we may be righteous at times, we are not wholly righteous; for at times we all sin or have some immoral thought or do something against the will of God.
And the Bible is full of such examples, a few of which we'll look at, today.
The excuse we give for all this is, "We're just human."
And that's right, we are.
And here is where we find our greatest separation from God.
God is completely righteous, all the time, forever and ever.
So, this morning we’re going to look at the righteousness of God and the righteousness of ourselves as two opposing pages in the same book.
Let's begin with Micah 6:1-5.
1. Hear now what the Lord is saying,
"Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
And let the hills hear your voice.
Notice that the Lord isn't calling upon the people to plead their case with Him, but with the earth that we humans have corrupted.
And, if we were truly righteous, we wouldn't have to plead our case at all, for God wouldn't have handed down His indictment against us or the people to whom this passage was originally addressed.
2. "Listen, you mountains, to the indictment of the Lord,
And you enduring foundations of the earth,
Because the Lord has a case against His people;
Even with Israel He will dispute.
3. "My people, what have I done to you,
And how have I wearied you? Answer Me.
In other words, what has God done to us, that we should have turned away from Him?
God demands an answer, but we really have none to give.
And sometimes we get angry with God, and blame Him for allowing the pain, suffering and corruption to continue to exist.
Listen to how Isaiah expresses this same thought as Micah (Isaiah 43:22-24):
22. "Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob;
But you have become weary of Me, O Israel.
23. "You have not brought to Me the sheep of your burnt offerings;
Nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
Nor wearied you with incense.
24. "You have bought Me no sweet cane with money,
Neither have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices;
Rather you have burdened Me with your sins,
You have wearied Me with your iniquities.
Keep this thought in mind as we go back to verse 4 of our Micah passage. (Micah 6:4)
4. "Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt
And ransomed you from the house of slavery,
And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
Egypt had a number of gods, but they didn't know our one true God.
In Egypt, the Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptian taskmasters, and in a way, to the culture of the land, which was unrighteous.
But God freed them from all that, and yet they continued to return to the unrighteous things and practices of this world.
So, God reminds them again of the difference between the righteous and the unrighteous.
5. "My people, remember now
What Balak king of Moab counseled
And what Balaam son of Beor answered him,
And from Shittim to Gilgal,
In order that you might know the righteous acts of the Lord."
Do you remember what Balak counseled?
Let's look at Numbers 22:5-6.
5. So he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, at Pethor, which is near the River, in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying, "Behold, a people came out of Egypt; behold, they cover the surface of the land, and they are living opposite me.
6. "Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed."
People who are unrighteous usually seek the advice and counsel of other unrighteous people, for they seek the evil way of solving their problems, which most likely have come about because of their own behavior.
But Balaam knew he couldn't curse the Israelites, for God would not let him; but he did counsel Balak on how to cause a rift between God and His people.
Note what we are told in Numbers 25:1-3.
1. While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.
2. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.
3. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry against Israel.
God had been showing His presence and glory to the people in the wilderness for forty years; but as soon as the men of Israel saw some pretty foreign women, they allow themselves to be enticed away from God's righteousness and to serve demons instead.
God is always the same.
He is always righteous; but we are not.
For another case in point, let's turn to Genesis 18:22-26.
22. Then the men [sent by God] turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord.
23. And Abraham came near and said, "Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
24. "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?
25. "Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"
26. So the Lord said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account."
God doesn't slay the righteous with the wicked, but people do.
God may allow natural disasters to occur, but that's not the same thing.
Look around the world today and notice how many innocent people are dying in the wars that are occurring.
But after the Lord removed Lot and His family, He did destroy Sodom and surrounding towns.
Abraham knew God’s unconditional righteousness, and thus he ventured to question Him.
Abraham also knew of the people's unrighteousness, including Lot's, but because of his own willingness to seek God for his answers, he also sought His mercy.
And look what happened as a result of saving Lot and his family.
Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt because she missed the sinful ways of Sodom. (Genesis 19:26)
26. But his wife, from behind him, looked back; and she became a pillar of salt.
And because of the evil ways of the people among whom they lived, Lot allowed his daughters to get him drunk and to have an incestuous relationship with him (Genesis 19:31-36), and their offspring became thorns in Israel's side.
31. Then the first-born said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth.
32. “Come let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.”
33. So they made their father drink wine that night, and the first-born went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
34. And it came about on the morrow, that the first-born said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.”
35. So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
36. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.
So, in reality, there were really no truly righteous people in Sodom.
In Deuteronomy 32:3-6, we read the words of a poetic passage of Moses as he ascribes righteousness to God and corruption to humans.
Listen to what he says.
3. "For I proclaim the name of the Lord;
Ascribe greatness to our God!
4. "The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
All the ways of God are righteous and, unlike us, He is faithful to remain that way.
5. “They have acted corruptly toward Him,
They are not His children, because of their defect;
But are a perverse and crooked generation.
6. “Do you thus repay the Lord,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is not He your Father who has bought you?
He has made you and established you.
God our Father bought us with His own Son.
So many people are among the foolish and the unwise who have turned away from this offer of grace and mercy, the offer of forgiveness.
And why have they done this?
Because they are righteous in their own sight.
Have you heard about the goddess movement that is growing in this country?
Apparently, it was started by some women who saw God only as a made-up being created by a male-dominated society, who in turn made up laws to belittle women.
So, they made up a goddess of their own, a so-called spiritual being whom they could worship, and who in turn agreed with their unrighteous life-styles.
These are the kinds of people Moses and God are speaking about.
Now let’s hear what David says in Psalm 7, beginning at verse 6, about people who “do their own thing.”
6. Arise, O Lord, in Thine anger;
Lift up Thyself against the rage of my adversaries,
And arouse Thyself for me; Thou hast appointed judgment.
Judgment is the one thing that unrighteous people don't think exists, for if they did, they would realize it was meant for them.
7. And let the assembly of the peoples encompass Thee;
And over them return Thou on high.
8. The Lord judges the peoples;
Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.
If Jesus Christ is truly in us, then His righteous blood covers our unrighteousness, and we are seen as being truly righteous.
However, this grace does not give us the license to continue to deliberately sin.
Grace is not cheap!
But, without Christ...
9. O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;
For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.
10. My shield is with God,
Who saves the upright in heart.
Is David speaking about us, or about someone else?
In your own heart, you know if he is speaking of you.
11. God is a righteous judge,
And a God who has indignation every day.
12. If a man does not repent, He [God] will sharpen His sword;
He has bent His bow and made it ready.
13. He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons,
He makes His arrows fiery shafts.
In His righteousness, God lets us all have a taste of hell in order that we might turn away from it, repent, and follow Him.
But if we don't...
14. Behold, he travails with wickedness,
And he conceives mischief, and brings forth falsehood.
15. He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made.
16. His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate.
In other words, people dig their own way into hell.
They dig their way to hell with the blood of humans and animals.
They dig their way to hell with the pain and suffering they cause.
And they dig their way to hell with their corruption and their destruction of this earth.
God doesn't have to throw them into hell, and neither do we; they are already on their way.
Let us resolve in our hearts to be the peacemaking children of God that He desires us to be, and along with David, together we will sing praises to God.
17. I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness,
And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
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