Honestly I find it difficult to live a life of righteousness all the time. Do you? I sin, often with the best of intentions, yet I knowingly do wrong. I know better yet I do not do better.
If this describes you too we are in good company, as the saying goes, for I believe no one accounts this better than Paul in Romans. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When 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 the member of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:15-25 NIV)
As a layperson and a flawed human being, there are I believe, three things that make living a righteous life seem difficult:
We arrive in this world with the capacity for both good and evil.
In order for us to learn to choose to do the right thing God left some specific instructions in His Word.
- Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
- Proverbs 22:15, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.”
- Proverbs 29:15 “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.”
We have a responsibility to ourselves to recognize our inability to be likely to choose to do evil rather than to choose to do good, to live a righteous life.
- Again Paul himself reminds us in Romans 7:18 “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Therefore, unless taught otherwise, we will resort to looking out for ourselves, to lives void of consideration for anyone but ourselves. Which reminds me of the wisdom saying, “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.”
- Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
- In defense of his making of the golden calf for the Israelites to worship in the desert while Moses was on Mt. Sinai, Aaron reminded Moses in Exodus 32:22, ” ‘Do not be angry, my lord,’ Aaron answered. ‘You know how prone these people are to evil.’ “
- I realize that this goes against the view of society that men are inheritably good. I do believe mankind is capable of great human kindness to our fellow man. But I also know that without intervention man, woman or child will most often choose to look after number one and to do that it often means we break someone else. I also believe that intervention has to be the Lord, His teachings and His presence in our hearts.
- Which leads me to the conclusion we get the “cart before the horse” oftentimes. We want to live a “righteous” life, be a “good person” but we leave Christ completely out of it. True righteousness comes from following Jesus. This means we must absorb as our own belief what Paul was given by God to write in Romans 3:21-24, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
For part 2 please check back tomorrow.