The Life of Righteousness-Part 1 covered the first reason I believe that it is difficult, hard even, for me to live a life of righteousness. These reasons may very well apply to you as well. I believe they are common to all of humanity.
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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- Satan preys upon us in multiple ways.
One is that he preys upon our weaknesses.
- In Job in the first chapter verses 6-12, Satan comes among the angels before God and God asks him where he had come from. (No doubt God knew where Satan had been but he asked Satan to lead him into what was to follow.) Satan replied he had been roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it. Satan had been, certainly, looking for someone to lead into sin. This is when God asked Satan had he considered Job. This conversation lead to Job’s greatest time of testing of his faith. Job does not sin, even when he loses everything, all his material possessions, his children and grandchildren, his servants, his reputation as a righteous man amongst his friends and his health.
- I Peter 5:18 states, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for some to devour.”
- Satan also distracts us from the Word of God and God himself. As Jesus explained in the parable of the sower to the disciples, “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.”
- Satan appeals to our sense of self-pride. Peter, dear disciple that he was, struggled with pride and anger. He swore that Jesus would never die the way He told His disciples, the way the prophets of old had foretold. Jesus rebukes Satan in Peter in Matthew 16:23, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” It was the same trap Satan laid for Eve in the Garden of Eden when he told her, “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
- Satan deceives us as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 through false teachers, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
- How often we underestimate the abilities of Satan to test our faith, to distract us from a life of righteousness that honors God! Furthermore how much more often do we overestimate our ability to recognize a scheme of Satan for what it is, a way to pull us from doing God’s will!
This isn’t to say that we can fall back upon the old cliché because Satan can’t FORCE us to sin. “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” Romans 8:9 N.I.V. Along with this is the assurance we have from God as He inspired Paul to write in I Corinthians 10:12-13 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
There is the third and final post on this subject still to follow. Hope to have you back to read that post and the conclusion, for now, of this topic.