Monday, October 11, 2010

Praising the Lord Our God - Part 2

[The LORD] loves righteousness and justice... ~ Psalm 33:5a

God "loves righteousness and justice." Righteousness and justice are two closely related moral attributes of God, akin to His holiness and wrath, whereby ‘He maintains Himself as the Holy One over against every violation of His holiness’ (Louis Berkhof, A Summary of Christian Doctrine, p.33). Our God delights in doing what is right and just because He is righteous and just.

As the Creator and Lord over all the earth, He governs the whole world with righteousness and justice. And how does He do that? Through His law which is the standard of His righteousness.

Essential to the notion of righteousness is conformity and obedience to the law of God. The world is full of wickedness and injustice because it rejects the law of God. Our society in general abhors the law of God. In its rebellion against the righteous rule of God the world is under judgment. That’s why Paul says, “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom.1:18).

Friends, God is holy. His holiness sets Him apart from us. He hates sin and evil and punishes them who do evil. Part of His punishment is to give sinners over to their own deceitful hearts, sinful passions and depraved minds. Yet in His righteousness He rewards those who do what is right.

But who among us do what is right always? Who among us obey the law of God perfectly? No one, except our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 3 does not only tell us that no one is righteous and no one does good. It also declares that God manifested His righteousness and justice in Jesus Christ. God presented Him as propitiation, that is, as an atoning sacrifice that satisfied God’s wrath against our sins.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Righteous One, is God’s perfect sacrifice for our sins. He perfectly obeyed the law of God and offered Himself in His death in our behalf.

So none of us can boast before God. All of us are guilty of disobeying His law. None of us is righteous. None of us does what is right. We deserve His wrath. But if by faith you and I accept the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, we are counted righteous. We are united with Him who was tempted in every way yet did not sin so that in Him we who believe become the ‘righteousness of God’ (2 Cor 5:21).

One Puritan pastor puts it this way: “It is our wisdom and our comfort; we care for no knowledge in the world but this: that man hath sinned and God hath suffered; that God hath made himself the sin of men, and that men are made the righteousness of God" (Thomas Hooker).” This is good news! This is the gospel!

So how do we magnify the righteousness of God? The best way is to believe that Christ is our righteousness…that in Him, by faith, God has declared us righteous… that we now stand in a right relationship with God, His law, and His justice…that through Christ we have peace with God and have obtained mercy. Look to Christ. Behold Him as your righteousness and God will not count your sin against you any longer.

We also magnify God’s righteousness by loving His law, His righteous law. When I say the law of God, I’m referring not only to all the laws and commands of God in the Bible but the whole written Word of God itself. Do you love reading and memorizing the word of God? Most of all, do you delight in obeying His Word? Obedience to God’s Word is another way to praise God in His righteousness.

Devoting your time in meditating in order to practice the Word is another way of conforming to God's righteousness. Joshua 1:8 says, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

The law of God is for our good. The Apostle John says, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). When God justifies us, He also gives us the ability to love His Word and to keep His Word. By keeping His Word, we conform to His righteousness and that way we glorify God.

No matter how hard your situation is, God desires your obedience. When your faith is tested look to Christ as your only righteousness for in the light of it, you can endure, even rejoice, in your sufferings. Look to Him who endured all kinds of injustice and pain for your sake.

In all your trials and suffering, remember Him who suffered for you. But do not forget that in all your hardships, God still does what is right and good for you. In Christ, He turns your sorrows into joy, your mourning into dancing, your affliction into opportunity to grow in your faith and obedience. Suffering builds up good character and strengthens hope for God’s people. God alone makes good out of evil. He alone makes right from wrong. He alone does what is right and just. This is the righteous God of the Scripture.

Oh, how easily we accuse God of being unfair when adversity strikes us. Maybe someone very close to you keeps on hurting you. Maybe you have been cheated or abused by someone and it still bothers you. Before accusing God of being unfair or getting back at your perpetrator, remember Christ and the agony He has to go through in bearing the consequences of your sins.

Remember that He was without sin but because of your sins and my sins, He was forsaken by many, hated, scorned and bruised by those who wished him dead. But He endured them all so that you and I will be forgiven. He suffered so that you and I would sin no more. He was afflicted so that you and I would stop hurting each other and would start building up one another in the faith.

We can glorify God even in the most painful situation of our lives when we recognize our suffering and count it with joy that God regards us worthy to share in the suffering of His Son. God knows what is right for us and He does what is right for us, even allowing us to go through difficult circumstances.

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