BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 24, Day 2: Romans 13:1-5

Summary of passage:  You must submit to government authorities because God is the one who has given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.  If you rebel against the government, you are rebelling against God and are therefore subject to judgment.  Do what is right and you have nothing to fear.  The ruler is God’s servant ready to punish the wrongdoer.  Thus, submit to authorities so you’re not punished and because of conscience.

Questions:

3)  The definition of submit according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to yield to governance or authority; to subject to a condition, treatment, or operation; to yield oneself to the authority or will of another”.  Everyone must submit to governing authorities because God is the one who had given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The same reasons people struggle with submitting to God (which in this passage Paul says is the same thing i.e. God and authorities are the same):  people want to do what they want to do (selfishness) and not what others tell them to do.  Human nature is inherently evil and if a person wants to be able to kill another, that’s what he wants to do.  Man wants power and to lord over others.  God established rules/government so there would not be anarchy in this world.  I’m fine with following the government (when you’re brought up in society it’s relatively easy to obey).  It’s the daily selfishness I struggle with such as when I’m driving being nice to others or putting others needs before mine or giving up my time for others.

5)  When man/human authority asks us to go against God and His Word.  Daniel ignores the decree by King Darius to not pray to God.  This is against God.  When you’re asked to do something that goes against your conscience or that you know is wrong.  Then you can disobey.  Killing others, persecuting others, causing physical harm to others, etc.

Conclusions:  Great passage by Paul and very important today when people are so against governing authorities.  You may not like who is in office, but God put them there so respect them and the laws of your country.

End Notes:  Connecting Romans 12, people are not to take vengeance but the government can punish wrongdoers since God gave them the authority to do so.  Paul is speaking to some Jews who refused to acknowledge the authority of the rulers and thus paid no taxes.

“Be subject to” is a significant theme for Romans 13:1-7.  The civil rulers, all of whom were probably pagans at the time Paul was writing.  Christians may have been tempted not to submit to them and to claim allegiance only to Christ.  Even the possibility of a persecuting state did not shake Paul’s conviction that civil government is ordained by God (1 Peter 2:13-17).

Government authorities serve a purpose for God.  God appoints a nation’s leaders, but not always to bless the people. Sometimes it is to judge the people like we read in Daniel and how God used the Babylonian empire to judge His people.

Paul wrote this during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was no democracy, and no special friend to Christians – yet he still saw their legitimate authority.

“Your Savior suffered under Pontius Pilate, one of the worst Roman governors Judea ever had; and Paul under Nero, the worst Roman Emperor. And neither our Lord nor His Apostle denied or reviled the ‘authority!’ ” (Newell)

Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them – unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man (as in Acts 4:19).  Paul is describing the ideal rulers here.  Obviously, man is fallen so this is not always the case the rulers will do what is right.

God uses governing authorities as a check upon man’s sinful desires and tendencies. Government can be an effective tool in resisting the effects of man’s fallenness.

Paul’s idea is that Christians should be the best citizens of all. Even though they are loyal to God before they are loyal to the state, Christians are good citizens because they are honest, give no trouble to the state, pay their taxes, and – most importantly – pray for the state and the rulers.

Paul describes government officials as God’s minister. They have a ministry in the plan and administration of God, just as much as church leaders do.

If the state’s rulers are God’s minister (servant), they should remember that they are only servants, and not gods themselves.

It is through the just punishment of evil that government serves its function in God’s plan of holding man’s sinful tendencies in check. When a government fails to do this consistently, it opens itself up to God’s judgment and correction.

The sword is a reference to capital punishment. In the Roman Empire, criminals were typically executed by beheading with a sword (crucifixion was reserved for the worst criminals of the lowest classes). Paul, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has no doubt that the state has the legitimate authority to execute criminals.

We must be subject to government; not only because we fear punishment, but because we know it is right before God to do so.  Christian obedience to the state is never blind – it obeys with the eyes of conscience wide open.  Christians must duly honor the government in order to maintain a good conscience.

Fun Fact (taken from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary):  The Bible, by exhortation and commandment, requires submission and obedience to six principal authorities:

  1.  Parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20; 1 Timothy 3:4)
  2.  Teachers (Proverbs 5:12-13)
  3.  Husbands (Ephesians 5:21-22, 24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6)
  4.  Masters–or today, employers (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:22, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18)
  5.  Government (Romans 13:1-2, 5: Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13)
  6.  God (Genesis 26:5, Ephesians 5:24, Hebrews 5:9; 12:9, James 4:7)

The supreme test of faith is obedience (1 Samuel 28:18).  The Bible often links obedience to faith (Genesis 22:18; Romans 1:5; 1 Peter 1:14).  Jesus obedience to the Father is the supreme example for Christians.

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What’s the Difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees?

The Pharisees were a legalistic and separatistic group who strictly kept the law of Moses and the unwritten “tradition of the elders” (Matthew 15:2).  They were by far the most influential of the ruling groups (Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes).  It is believed this sect was formed out of the Hasidim (faithful ones), which was a broad movement in the second century BC that sought to preserve ancient Jewish tradition in the face of Hellenism.  The name first appears around 135 BC.

They were found everywhere in Palestine by the time of Jesus and wore a distinguishing garb so they could be easily recognized.  According to Josephus, they numbered around 6000.  Their goal was to preserve Judaism, which developed into national pride and a feeling of superiority over others as seen with the Samaritans.

They believed they were the only interpreters of God and His word.  As a whole, the Pharisees were seen by most other Jews as paragons of virtue and were highly regarded.

Their beliefs were often opposed to Jesus.  They believed in final rewards for good works and a special divine providence for them.  In the New Testament, the Pharisees are painted as purely evil.  However, most Jews respected them and some converted (Nicodemus and Paul that we know of).  Their goals and intentions were true; they just strayed a bit.  With the fall of the temple in 70 AD, the Pharisees continued to lose power and were eventually replaced by the rabbis.

The Sadducees were more politically minded and had theological difference with the Pharisees including denial of the resurrection, angels, and spirits.  The Sadducees were the political party of the Jewish aristocrat priesthood.  They were priests, but not all priests were Sadducees.  Under the Romans, they became the party favorable to the government.  As aristocrats they were naturally very conservative and were more interested in maintaining the political status quo than in the religious purity of the nation.  They were not popular with the people.  Being satisfied with the present age, they did not care for the coming Messianic age.

The Sadducees rejected the tradition of the elders, denied the resurrection of the body, denied the existence of angels and spirits, and denied the existence of divine providence.

They seemed to have ignored Jesus’ early ministry, but feared a messianic movement would bring them political ruin.  They sat in the Sanhedrin, which condemned Jesus.  They were active against the early church and arrested Peter and John.  They were responsible for the death of James, Jesus’ brother.  However, with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, they disappeared as well.  Hence, their struggle against Jesus, along with the Pharisees, resulted in demise anyways.  No one can thwart God’s plans.

(Most summarized from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney).

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 5: John 11:45-57

Summary of passage:  As usual, some believed in Jesus after Lazarus was raised from the dead and some didn’t.  The Sanhedrin met and were threatened by Jesus’ rise.  They would lose power and the Romans would take over.  Caiaphas, the high priest, said it is better for Jesus to die than lose the nation to Roman control.  They plotted against Jesus who moved to the desert near Ephraim with the disciples.  The next Passover came and Jesus did not appear since he would be arrested immediately if he did so (and likely put to death).

Questions:

12)  Some believed; others were threatened by him.

13a)  “What are we accomplishing?”  “The Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

b)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Not to lose power.  Political survival.  Be careful not to oppose God when you’re single-minded about power and driven by greed.

14)  Part personal question.  My answer:  The significance is Caiaphas took this as a literal death to save the nation of Israel whereas Jesus did this spiritually:  he died for the nation to save their souls not their lives and gather all God’s people (Jews and Gentiles) as one to Jesus.  God is good.

Conclusions:  I can’t imagine Jesus enjoying this time on earth where he has to constantly hide from the Pharisees instead of ministering to the people.  It’s a good lesson for us.  There are times in our lives when we just have to do the grunt work and times in our lives that aren’t pleasant but we must endure like Jesus.  I think a lot of people picture Jesus just doing his miracles and then dying.  They forget the day-in and day-out living that he did like we all do to get to God’s purpose.

End Notes:  The people are divided and some went to the Pharisees.  John either learned of what transpired during this meeting through Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathaea or someone who was on the council and then converted to Christianity.

Now the Sanhedrin admit he is performing miracles and is the Messiah.  So now Jesus is a threat to them and he must be stopped.

In all four Gospels, the Pharisees appear as Jesus’ principal opponents throughout his public ministry. But they lacked political power, and it is the chief priests who were prominent in the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Here both groups are associated in a meeting of the Sanhedrin.  They did not deny the reality of the miraculous signs but they did not understand their meaning, for they failed to believe.

People probably imagine the “what if” again.  What if Jesus had lived?  Would everyone believe?  Maybe.  But then we wouldn’t be saved.  There is no “what if” ing God and His will.  What happens to you is for a reason.  Period.  Move on. Don’t dwell on “what if’s” because they will never be.  You can lament them.  But you can’t change them.

“Our place” refers to the temple.  It had become an idol to the Sanhedrin, thinking of it as theirs.  It’s God. Always.

Little did the Sanhedrin know that history would take its course and the Jews would love “our place” anyways in 70 AD when the Romans did invade Jerusalem, scattering the nation, and eradicating the nation of Israel for almost 2000 years.  And this had nothing to do with Jesus.

Caiaphas was logical but not moral.  He was willing to kill an innocent man to save many.

Caiaphas was high priest for 11 years.  “That year” is to draw emphasis to the year Jesus died. God overruled what he said here.  His words were true in a way he could not imagine.

Now, the high officials are joining with the lesser officials to kill Jesus.  Lazarus’ raising was the last straw to them.

Jesus retreats again because his time had not yet come.  He was not afraid.

Now, we are about to speed up history and Jesus’ days are numbered.  John jumps to a few days before Jesus’ last Passover.  The chief priests are the Sadducees and they were often in opposition to the Sanhedrin.  Not when it came to Jesus.  Both were united against him.

Note of location of Ephraim:  Ephraim was one of the original tribes of Israel but Jesus retreated to the town of Ephraim.  Unfortunately, no one knows exactly where that is and I couldn’t find any maps.  One could suppose it was located somewhere within this region.  Map HERE

Who was Caiaphas?  He was the official high priest during the ministry and the trial of Jesus (18-36 AD). By this point in history, the high priesthood had evolved into a political office, the priests still coming from the descendants of Aaron but being generally appointed for worldly considerations.  When Pompey gained control of Judea in 63 BC, the Romans took over the authority of appointing not only the civil rulers but the high priests also, with the result that the office declined spiritually.  Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, had been high priest by appointed of the Romans from 7-14 AD.  In-between, three of his sons had succeeded him but Annas was still considered a high priest.

We shall see after Jesus’ betrayal, it was the house of Annas where he was brought and tried.  Caiaphas then took a leading role in the persecution of the early church.  Summarized from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 4, Day 2: Genesis 3:1-6

Summary of passage:  The crafty serpent asked Eve, “Did God really say not to eat from any tree in the garden?”  Eve tells him they can eat from any tree except from the tree in the middle of the garden or they will die.  The serpent plants doubt, saying surely you won’t die; you will just be like God, knowing good and evil.

So, Eve took some and ate it and gave some to Adam (who was with her the whole time) and ate it as well.

Questions:

3)  the devil or Satan

4a)  Adam was to care for the trees in the garden and he was free to eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil because if he ate from that, he would die.

b)  Yes.  Why else would God plant it and why would he instruct Adam to eat from any tree (including the tree of life)  Verses 9 & 16.  Everything God does has a purpose.  God gave man Free Will–to choose life or death.  And man chose.

5a)  The serpent planted doubt.  He questioned God’s words by asking, “Are you sure God said that?”  It made Eve wonder if God did indeed say that.  Then he questions God’s word and twists it by saying Eve wouldn’t die if she ate it.  Why would God do such a thing?  Then the serpent does speak some truth by saying their eyes will be opened.  They just wouldn’t be opened how the serpent says.  Finally, he tempted by saying “You will gain knowledge of good and evil” and be equal with God.

b)  First, Eve talked to the serpent.  Then she listened to the serpent.  Then she believed the serpent.  Then she gave in to her desire for wisdom and partook  of the fruit.

c)  God first and foremost.  God’s truths.  God’s words.  God’s goodness.  God himself really.

6a)  Jesus used God’s truths to defeat the devil.  Granted, Eve didn’t have the Bible to use but in a way she had something just as powerful:  a personal relationship with God.  Eve doubted God’s goodness; Jesus never did.  Eve doubted God’s ways; Jesus never did.

Of course, Jesus was God on earth and Eve was merely a human so it’s hard to compare.

But the serpent does use the same methods:  lust of the flesh; lust of the eyes; and pride.

b)  No.  James says after desire (temptation) has conceived (been planted), then it gives birth to sin (one sins) and sin leads to death.

Because Eve coveted the fruit didn’t mean she sinned.  She only sinned when she ate the fruit (disobeyed God’s commands).  At any moment before then she could have walked away.  But she didn’t.

The definition of sin according to Webster’s Dictionary is “a transgression of the law of God”.  Transgression means a violation of a law or command; to go beyond the limits.

According to my bible dictionary (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney) sin is “revolt against the holiness and sovereign will of God.  It is a condition of the heart and the outworking of that condition through one’s words and actions.”

We are all tempted (“to entice to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain” says Webster’s).  Satan tempts to undermine our faith.  God tests (not tempts) to strengthen our faith.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To quit God’s work and purpose for my life.  Some days it’s just not worth it.  It’s a constant temptation.  I’m also tempted to say mean things or not be giving.  Constant temptation to not do as Jesus would do.  Temptation to do what I want to do and not what God wants me to do.

Conclusions:  We discussed the whole sin versus temptation thing in Acts last year except we were asked if it was okay to doubt (see lesson HERE).  We are human.  We will be tempted.  Constantly by the devil.  But we have Free Will to say no.  God always offers us an out (1 Corinthians 10:13) so we can stand up to the devil.  God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear.

From Eve we can learn the common steps the devil uses to make us sin:  he plants doubt in our mind; he makes us question God’s word; he entices with something seemingly better.  This pattern we need to be aware of so we don’t fall into sin.  So we can stand up to the devil and say “NO!” in God’s name.  So we don’t lose sight of God like Eve did.

Interesting Side Notes:  Note that God instructed Adam to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  Then God created Eve.  Eve must have been told by Adam but she was not instructed by God.  Hence, she was chosen by the serpent to tempt as she was the weaker link.  We don’t know what Adam said to Eve but Adam was standing right there.  He knew it was wrong.  Eve disobeyed God and Adam.

Also, if Adam had been chosen to eat first, Eve might have had an out by saying she was only obeying her husband, the head of the household.  Hence, God allowed Eve to be tested first.

Eve doesn’t even seem to know the name of the tree and exactly what God said since she uses the word “touch” instead of “eat” as God did.  This is not an excuse.  But it does fall upon Adam to communicate to her God’s commands.

Eve was truly deceived by the devil; Adam sinned in full knowledge of what God had said. (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Timothy 2:14).

I was always told it was Eve’s fault man sinned.  But upon close examination Adam bears most of the burden.  He was right there (Genesis 3:6) the entire time.  At any moment either one could have ran from the serpent.  But neither did.  It just shows how powerful and cunning the devil truly is.  And what we must fight against daily.

If Adam and Eve could be tricked and disobey–those who actually walked with God–then we must be extra vigilant and strong in the Word in order to resist.

Great explanation of Genesis 3 HERE

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 27, Day 2 Isaiah 60:1-9

Summary of passage:  Isaiah says:  Arise and shine for your light (the Redeemer) has come along with the glory of the Lord.  Darkness covers the earth but the Lord shines over that with His glory.  Nations and kings come to God’s light.  All will assemble from afar.  You will be radiant with joy.  Wealth will be brought from far and wide.  Camels will cover the land (prosperity).  All from Sheba and Nebaioth will come, serve and praise the Lord.  All offerings will be accepted.  The temple will be adorned.  Ships, including those of Tarshish, will bring your sons, silver, and gold to the honor of the Lord.

Questions:

3a)  The light is the Redeemer (from Isaiah 59:20) or can also be the Lord as He rises upon us and His glory appears over us.  It has come to Israel, the peoples, Nations, kings–come for all.

b)  Isaiah 59:9-10:  Deep shadows where we grope along the wall  and feel our way without eyes.  We stumble as if it were twilight and we are like the dead.

4a)  Nations and kings will come.  All will assemble including your sons and daughters from afar.  You will be radiant.  All the wealth on the seas will be brought and all the wealth of the nations.  Camels will cover the land (a sign of prosperity) and all from Sheba will bring gold and praise (all nations will praise the Lord and bring gifts).  All offerings will be accepted.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I came back to church after college when I had my first daughter.  It was time.  I wanted her to know Jesus.  Recently, my friend who is a missionary has led by example as I watched her consult the Lord in every decision, listen, and obey unquestioningly.  She has been an example I can only hope to one day replicate.

Conclusions:  This passage has a lot of geographical references.

According to my Bible Atlas (Zondervan Atlas of the Bible by Carl G Rasmussen), Midian was a descendant of Abraham and Keturah and the ancestor of an Arabian tribe that bore his name.  Midian is mentioned 57 times in the OT.  They were a nomadic people but believed to have its center in NW Arabia.

Midian was also a part of Sheba: http://bibleatlas.org/full/midian.htm

Ephah is believed to be a separate tribe of Sheba like Midian but is unknown exactly where it was located:

http://bibleatlas.org/regional/ephah.htm

Sheba was on the Arabian peninsula now Yemen: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/sheba.htm

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C Tenney, the camels mentioned carried trade goods from Sheba northward to the Mediterranean countries. Sheba was very wealthy through the control of the trade in perfumes and incense.  The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chronicles 9:1-12), riding a camel as well bearing just such gifts.

Kedar is another name for Arabia: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/kedar.htm

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Kedar is mentioned numerous times in the Bible (Isaiah mentions it in:  Isaiah 21:17, Isaiah 42:11).  Kedar also had great wealth and Zondervan infers due to the number of references in the Bible that Kedar must have been well-known to the Israelites from 1000-500 BC.  Kedar was also one of the distant lands.

Nebaioth is in Northern Arabia: http://bibleatlas.org/full/nebaioth.htm

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Tarshish’s location is debated but many scholars place it in Spain.  It is mentioned many times in reference to ships and ports but it was a very distant place as well.  It was on a ship headed to Tarshish that Jonah sought to flee from the Lord (Jonah 1:3; 4:2).

Map of Tarshish: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/tarshish.htm

We must remember the New World had not been discovered yet.  The people’s knowledge of the world was limited so these places represented the far reaches of the known world.

Camels were the people’s primary mode of transportation in Isaiah’s time (still are in parts of the Middle East).  Having many camels could be akin to having many cars today:  a sign of wealth and a means of their livelihood.

End Note:  It is fascinating to see how these locations crop up in the Bible.  I love Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by JD Douglas and Merrill C Tenney which gives Bible references and lists all the places these locations are in the Bible.

I would have never remembered the ship Jonah boarded was headed to Tarshish.  Knowing Tarshish’s estimated location really cements in my mind how much Jonah wanted to “escape” from God (not that he could escape from God).  Jonah wanted to go to the far ends of the Earth, the edge of the known world–that’s how bad he didn’t want to go to Ninevah.  Ninevah must have been a really, really bad place!  I cannot recommend this Dictionary enough.

What does this have to do with Isaiah?  Nothing.  And that’s why I love BSF.  It leads you to discover things you otherwise never would have.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 23, Day 4 Isaiah 51:1-16

Summary of passage:  God tells his ever-doubting people once again to listen to Him and look to the past (Abraham and Sarah) as proof again of His greatness.  He will comfort Zion and make her deserts like Eden and bring joy and gladness.  He will bring justice, righteousness, and salvation.  Everyone will look and hope in Him for his justice and righteousness will never fail.

God tells his people (those who have his law in their hearts) to not be afraid of men for they will be eaten up while His righteousness and salvation will last forever.  The people then acknowledge God’s past–God who cut Rahab (Egypt) to pieces and dried up the sea so the redeemed could cross over.  They will have gladness and joy as sorrow and sighing flee.

There is no reason to fear men who are but grass because Israel (his people) have the Lord who stretched out the heavens and laid Earth’s foundations.  The prisoners (Israel) will soon be set free.  For the Lord Almighty who churns the seas and puts words in our mouths says, “You are my people.”

Questions:

8a)  God will bless them and make them many.  He will comfort and offer compassion, give joy and gladness.  He will bring justice and salvation.  He would substantiate them from what He’s done in the past–He blessed Abraham and Sarah, He cut Rahab (Egypt) to pieces, made a road a sea (Moses parting the Red Sea), stretched out the Heavens, and laid the foundations of the Earth.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I receive all of them it seems at just the time I when I need it most.  Because He is all things.  He blesses, comforts, and gives joy, justice, and salvation.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Oh, God, you who dried up the seas so the redeemer could cross over, strengthen me with your arms as the Enemy comes against me and attacks my (your) life purpose.  Pierce the Enemy as you did Rahab and return my heart to you.  Vanquish the sorrow and the sighing and allow gladness and joy to defeat them.

10a)  I am the Lord Your God who churns up the sea, who comforts, who stretches out the Heavens and who created the Earth, who put words in your mouth and covers (protects) us.  I am the Lord Almighty and we are His people.  Remembering He is the One, True God and we are His.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He is there when no one else is.  He knows our pain and He gives us strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  He listens when we will not.  He cares when we don’t.  He forgives when we can’t.  He lets go when we insist on carrying.  God is greater than your suffering and if we look up, we will feel this in our hearts even as we push it out.

Conclusions:  Great lesson for me as I need God right now as my heart is tormented.  Answer 10b is for me right now.  I’m still so angry, hurt, and upset but I know He is there as I insist on carrying this assault and taking it personally (when it’s probably just a computer program doing the hurting). But I keep looking up and praying for this to pass soon.

End Note:  Rahab in the Old Testament is connected with the providential act of God in restraining the sea, and as a demonstration of his supreme power.  Isaiah 51:10 has taken the name and applied it to the deliverance of Israel from Egypt so here it means Egypt.  (Taken from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by JD Douglas and Merrill C Tenney)

Admittedly, this lesson was hard for me to do.  I’m fighting my anger from the scraper and am finding everything hard to accomplish.

It’s hard posting this knowing it’s going to be stolen tomorrow but I’m doing it anyways–for you all.

I’m praying what this is all about.  Is this site too important to me?  Does God not like it?  What am I doing wrong?  Is my heart not where God wants it?

I wish I never would have found this guy.  This weekend would be a lot cheerier if I hadn’t.

What Does Righteousness Mean?

Our BSF lecture focused on righteousness and our third principle stated, “God’s way of salvation is the only way to turn from sin and turn to righteousness.”

Well, I was stumped.  I had always thought of righteousness as being right.  But this obviously isn’t the case in this sense so I decided to find out what I was missing.

Webster’s says righteousness is “acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin; morally right or justifiable; or arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality”

The synonym listed is moral.

So in my upbringing I had missed the “God” in the sense of the word.

In the statement above, God’s salvation allows us to be righteous (or free from guilt).  Jesus erased our sins. And being righteous means to act in accordance with God’s law–to continually strive to be like Jesus.

God is righteous because He is free from sin.  Isaiah 46:12-13: God says “…you who are far from righteousness, I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed.”

I made the mistake of going to Sam’s Club again (I really need to stay away from that place.  I think I would be a fiend if I went to the Bible BookStore as regularly) and I bought Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C. Tenney.  I had seen it before but decided to wait–until I looked up righteousness and it had the definition I had been seeking!  So, I bought it!

This Dictionary says righteousness is “any conformity to a standard, whether that standard has to do with inner character of a person or the objective standard of accepted law….Lord God always acts in righteousness because He always has a right relationship with people.”

This also explains righteousness in terms of Jesus.  Fascinating stuff and I’d highly recommend it.  I can’t wait to dive more into it.

In essence, being righteous is being like Jesus or being like God.