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021  God Cares About Righteousness

Over the past century or so, observers have watched Western Civilization unmake itself. The West is marching to the cadance of an army of intellectuals who insist that the civilization that produced modernity and lifted billions of humans out of ignorance and poverty was a mistake, and who intend to return us to a less-populated world described by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes:

"No arts; no letters; no society; ...continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."
Hobbes, "Leviathan"


Many of us invested our lives to stop the deterioration. We failed. Civilization unraveled, and will continue unraveling.

At this moment in history, God dropped into our mess one, unusually flawed candidate for high office in reaction to whom the American Church has polarized.  Those who embrace him claim that his faults are minor and inconsequential, and observe that we all possess such faults. The others say they cannot support such a flawed man.

I'm not talking about politics, I'm talking about the Church. 

This is the current version of the same Church that produced the modern world and Western Civilization. The reason Western Civilization appeared is that through the Church, people were empowered to live righteously. The Church taught the Western world that God cares about righteousness, taught her what that looks like, and then provided the means by which people could live righteously. That's how we managed to throw off tyrants, abolish slavery, empower women, feed children, invent technology that saves lives, and produce the blessings of education, art, the sciences, and liberty.

The ease with which huge segments of the Evangelical Church in America became apologists for a wicked man illustrates why civilization is unraveling. Simply put, we don't care about righteousness anymore.

And unless I'm mistaken, God dropped this flawed man among us precisely in order to expose this about us. Yes, he's "the Chosen"--what he was chosen to do was to expose the weakness of our commitment to righteousness.

Because God cares about righteousness. But we do not.

Major leaders of the American Church have argued in public that because all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), therefore we cannot fail to embrace the flawed man to be our leader. The clear message is this: God does not care about righteousness.

These leaders are badly confused. When discussing our redemption, it is true that every one of us needs a redeemer, and none of us deserves one. But when considering how we should live, and more importantly who should lead us, God cares about righteousness.

God cares about righteousness. 

He scarcely cares about anything else. Nothing else matters. The very reason that God told us how badly we all need a Redeemer was to enable us to live righteously. We walk in the Spirit in order to live righteously (Romans 8:4).

Far too many of us have been taught a version of Christianity in which God does not care about righteousness. All He cares about, in this powerless imitation of godliness (II Tim 3:5), is rescuing us from some obscure, future place called "Hell," based entirely on whether we embrace the man Jesus or not. That is why the Church was powerless to stop the wicked from hijacking the culture.

The Apostle Paul's gospel, articulated in his letter to the Romans, says precisely the opposite:

"[This is] the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation... as my gospel declares...." Romans 2:5b-7,16

He goes on to explain how we obtain righteousness by embracing the Messiah; but we are to embrace the Messiah in order to behave righteously. He never repudiates the fact that God is going to judge our conduct.

The whole Bible can be said to illustrate how God wants us to behave righteously. It's full of illustrative contrasts:

 

  • Abel, wholehearted. Cain, jealous and murderous.
  • Abraham, faithful. Terah, faithless.
  • Lot, godly. Sodom, wicked.
  • Jacob, valuing family. Esau, valuing food.
  • Joseph, innocent. His brothers, guilty.
  • Moses, devoted. Korah, Dathan, Abiram, Miriam, and Aaron, self-willed.
  • Joshua and Caleb, believing. Ten other spies, unbelieving.
  • David, embracing God. Saul, obeying the crowd.
  • Rehoboam, holding to his father's God. Jeroboam, setting up false gods.
  • This king, obedient to David. That king, persisting in error.
  • Jesus, understanding God's righteousness. Pharisees, practicing false religion.
  • Peter, giving up everything. Judas, greedy.
  • Paul, living by faith. Judaisers, living by law.


And in the end, the wicked dismissed into outer darkness, and the righteous shining like the sun. We may obtain mercy by believing, but God gave us mercy in order to produce good behavior. In the end, it is good behavior that He cares about.

God cares about righteousness.

Those leaders who have taught that God does not care about our conduct, or that righteous conduct is secondary to believing and not the very purpose for it, will be removed from leading the Church. That's how God will save civilization. The Church will teach righteousness again; and to do that, it must learn righteousness again. It is those who teach the law of God who will be called "great" (Matthew 5:19)...

...because God cares about righteousness. 

Live righteously. I'll see you in a couple of weeks.

 

Phil Weingart

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